Research Reveals Android APIs With Sinister Privacy Implications

By this point you are probably already aware of the fact that there are a lot of cyber security and privacy issues that people often end up facing when they are using a device that utilizes Android functionality as opposed to others that are out there. The fact of the matter is that security issues with Android are so commonplace that people have started to just take them as something that comes with the territory, something that they can’t really do anything about all in all.

However, for the most part you would assume that there would be no active attempt on the operating system’s part to compromise the security and privacy that you might be relying on. With all of that having been said and out of the way, a new research paper that was recently released might make people stop trusting the operating system to a decent margin.

It turns out that the Android operating system has two APIs that apps can use that would allow its developer to get a list of all of the apps and games that a particular user might have downloaded at any given point in time. Now, there is a reason why this functionality exists in the first place, and this reason has to do with the fact that apps sometimes need to be able to interact with each other and there are a lot of ways in which this interaction might just end up being facilitated if the app developer knows what apps to optimize interactions for.

There are a lot of other ways in which these APIs can be used though, and these other uses are what critics are starting to get a little concerned about. APIs like this can be used to fingerprint users as well as to infer certain personality traits as well as preferences which could then be used by advertisers to show users only those ads that would pertain to them, thereby making this a possible privacy infringement that the vast majority of users are just not going to want to be associated with at any given point in time.

Perhaps the most sinister thing about this API is that it does not need your permission in order to activate. It is a developer facing feature which is quite surprising when you consider the kind of impact it could potentially end up having on the average user. It is important to hold Google accountable for the various things that it does including adding a feature in its operating system that could prevent users from getting a meaningful level of privacy while they are going about their personal day to day business.

Read next: New Malware Infects Children’s Android Apps
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