Google quietly pulls a hidden feature in Android KitKat that allowed people to deny app permissions on a case-by-case basis.
December 13, 2013 4:04 PM PST
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Google has removed the hidden feature App Ops from Android in its Android 4.4.2 KitKat update, claiming that the feature wasn’t supposed to be available to the public in the first place. Google removed the feature because it was “experimental” and could break app functionality, reported the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“The fact that [Android users] can not turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people’s data is being sucked through,” wrote the EFF’s Peter Eckersley. “Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.”
The EFF argued that Google ought to re-enable the feature and fix it by adding three missing pieces: a single switch to keep apps from collecting trackable identifiers such as your phone number, IMEI, and user account info; a way to disable network access on a per-app basis; and better integration of App Ops into the Android system.
Google did not respond to a request for comment. CNET will update the story when they do.