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December 16, 2013

Google removes privacy feature from Android

The search engine said the feature had been added accidentally.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google has removed a privacy feature added to its Android mobile software that enabled consumers to block apps from collecting their personal data.

The latest changes mean that Android users will have to allow apps to access their personal data as a trade-off for usage.

Google reported that the feature was added by mistake in Android 4.3 OS, saying it was experimental and could break some of the apps policed by it.

Electronic Frontier Foundation technology projects director Peter Eckersley said he is suspicious of the explanation and does not think that it justifies removing the feature.

"Many instances of apps "breaking" when they are denied the ability to collect data like a location or an address book or an IMEI number can easily be fixed by, for instance, giving them back a fake location, an empty address book, or an IMEI number of all zeroes," Eckersley said.

"Alternatively, Google could document for developers that these API calls may fail for privacy reasons.

"For the time being, users will need to chose between either privacy or security on the Android devices, but not both."

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