CLEVELAND - More than a third of all U.S. adults have a smartphone. But when you download apps to use on that smartphone, are you putting your privacy at risk?
When you download an app, it asks for all sorts of access to your phone. You must agree to these permissions to download the app. So, what are you really agreeing to? That's what consumers are beginning to wonder.
Richard Foxen doesn't go far without his smartphone.
“It’s like having an encyclopedia of things that are available all the and time it’s just fantastic,” said Foxen.
There's just one downside, when consumers download apps on an Android phone, there’s a warning. That warning tells you what the app will have access to, like your location, network communication, hardware, phone calls and system tools.
Some of those, including the newsnet5 app, ask for "your personal information" or contact data -- and that’s discouraging for some.
“That’s stopped me from downloading some apps. They don’t need to access that information,” said Foxen.
SecureState's Risk Management consultant told us Facebook and gaming apps also ask for access to your contacts.
“You're trusting this app with this information. Based off that trust, you're going to gain functionality," said Joshua Lochner.
It's often all or nothing. So if you don't want that added functionality, you can't download the app. Plus, many apps ask for more permission than they really need.
“That way if they have to make a change later and want to add more to the app, they don't need to worry about you signing the terms of service again," said Lochner.
They are terms Foxen is paying more attention to, as he decides what he wants to download and what he can do without.
So why do iPhone users not get the same warning about permissions as Android users? When an Android user downloads the app, he/she gets the list of things the app is requesting. iPhone users don't get this warning.
Per Android, the permissions required for an application will prompt the user for consent to download the app. iPhone, on the other hand, is allowed limited access to system areas and don't read or write to other applications, allowing access to the address book. The default seatbelt template is predefined and that's why iPhone users are not prompted.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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