Privacy has always been a concern, in Android most things that may be a privacy concern are labeled as dangerous and require user approval to execute, however, one normal permission has caught many people’s attention recently, the Internet permission.
Internet, one of the fundamental parts of many applications, and also a fundamental part of our daily lives, many of us can’t imagine a day without internet, we use it in our Jobs, in Education, Entertainment, Communication, and many other things, so it comes as natural that many of our apps also have internet access, of course, many apps use internet to fetch the latest news, to sync accounts and keep our data safe, to find interesting content for us, maybe the app is only a display and all its content is running on a server, there are many, many valid reasons as to why an app needs access to the internet.
So why are we talking about privacy here? First, let’s talk about Android’s Permission System, it’s designed in such a way that most things that a user might find concerning have to be authorized, things such as location, the camera, the microphone, the ability to send SMS, etc. most people agree that those can be dangerous
Now people are becoming more aware of targeted advertisements like if you have ever bought something from Amazon, and for the following days you start seeing ads for similar products, you have seen targeted advertisements in action. Advertisers can pay a lot of money to get info on potential clients, knowing their tastes and spending habits can lead to huge revenues.
So much so that many apps sneakily started collecting data from the users without their knowledge, many concerns have been raised, and many more are to come, according to cnet,
“In January, Facebook and Google were both found to have used a developer tool to circumvent Apple’s privacy rules and build iOS apps that collect user information.”
Facebook has even been involved in many other scandals over user’s information, selling user data, which many unscrupulous politicians used in their favor.
So, that was a lot of background, but how that all relates to Android’s internet permission? Simple, it is catalogued as a normal permission, meaning any app can access the internet without it, so let’s suppose then that you just installed a new app, it works great, and you use it every day, at any moment, if you’re using the app, and you’re also connected to the internet, then the app can upload all the info of what you have done to their server, you might never notice.
This is particularly concerning when the app also has permission to do more stuff, read contacts, access the storage, the user’s location, etc.
All in all, the internet permission is, in itself, not problematic, it’s essential to many app’s functionalities, and overall it makes our experience more enjoyable. However, when coupled with other permissions, the internet can become a scary thing. Once an app has access to something you don’t know how they’ll use that info, they can, and many times will, save that info for further use. Always be careful when installing new apps.