9

So recently, I was searching for a news app that needs few permissions as possible.

I found an app called Flipboard. Google play said I need to allow the following:

  • Identity
  • Photos/Media/Files

screenshot screenshot
Screenshots (click images for larger variants)

I was satisfied with those permissions (left screenshot) and installed the app. Then I went to Privacy Guard (right screenshot; I have CM installed) to check if the permissions match.

The permissions not only not match but there are additional that I would never allow, like reading my SMS or Read Calendar information.

Another strange thing is, that on the google play web page there is another set of permissions:

This app has access to: Identity

  • find accounts on the device

Photos/Media/Files

  • test access to protected storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage

Other

  • receive data from Internet
  • full network access
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • view network connections

I know there can be additional permissions added with updates, but I never updated the app.

To me it seems google/apps are misleading users and it seems very illegal to me.

Am I missing something here or is my complain justified?

  • 1
    Really? All that for a news magazine? And you wonder why privacy is such a big issue today. Props to you for asking about this. – javathunderman Sep 7 '14 at 14:04
  • You would be surprised at some of the apps Android users just install without thinking of it. – HasH_BrowN Sep 7 '14 at 16:26
5

Yes, you are justified and they are being sneaky. Once a set of permissions is allowed, it can install new permission into that same set without getting approved on update. But you can retake control.

If your rooted, you can download the Xposed Framework installer from the XDA forums.

Xposed Installer

http://forum.xda-developers.com/xposed/xposed-installer-versions-changelog-t2714053

"Xposed is a framework for modules that can change the behavior of the system and apps without touching any APKs. All changes are done in the memory."

Must be rooted


PlayPermissions Xposed module

http://forum.xda-developers.com/xposed/modules/playpermissionsexposed-fix-play-store-t2783076

"This module aims to fix this problem for users who care about permissions.

It'll do the following:

1.Make the Play Store show you all of the app's permissions.

2.Require you to manually update apps with new permissions (regardless of the category)."


XPrivacy module

http://forum.xda-developers.com/xposed/modules/xprivacy-ultimate-android-privacy-app-t2320783

"XPrivacy can prevent applications from leaking privacy sensitive data. XPrivacy can restrict the categories of data an application can access. This is done by feeding an application with no or fake data. There are several data categories which can be restricted, for example contacts or location. For example, if you restrict access to contacts for an application, this will result in sending an empty contact list to the application. Similarly, restricting an application's access to your location will result in a set location being sent to the application."


modules require Xposed framework to be installed to function properly.


UPDATE

Play Store permissions for Flipboard using Xposed module

As of now, the only way to view all permissions before downloading from the Play Store is with the PlayPermissions module. Photo was included to show module in use.

Please don't confuse permissions with services, activities, or broadcast receivers.

As far as legality issues, this is NOT the right forum. Get in touch with Google if you feel you have been wronged or your rights have been infringed upon

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