EFF criticizes Google for removing 'vital privacy feature' with Android 4.4.2

The Android 4.4.2 update that began to roll out Monday to Google’s Nexus devices removed a feature that gave users fine-grained control over app permissions, prompting criticism from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The removed feature was called App Ops and was introduced in Android 4.3. It provided an interface from where users could withdraw permissions they gave apps when installing them. Traditionally, Android users have had to choose between giving an app all permissions it requests or not use it.

Yesterday, we published a blog post lauding an extremely important app privacy feature that was added in Android 4.3. That feature allows users to install apps while preventing the app from collecting sensitive data like the user’s location or address book. After we published the post, several people contacted us to say that the feature had actually been removed in Android 4.4.2, which was released earlier this week. Today, we installed that update to our test device, and can confirm that the App Ops privacy feature that we were excited about yesterday is in fact now gone.

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