Savvy Tips & Helpful Hints

Under the Microscope: Privacy Permissions Explained

When signing up for a new app, users are almost always asked to agree to Terms and Conditions. Because they’re typically pages long and very wordy, it’s safe to assume that the majority of users aren’t reading through these permissions line by line. But this is no small request: most apps request to use your information, whether that be your name, email address or even your geographically location. You wouldn’t disclose this kind of sensitive information to just anyone on the street, so why is it so widely accessible to apps? 

You might be surprised how much access apps actually have to your personal data according to Broadcom, 45 percent of the most popular Android apps and 25 percent of the most popular iOS apps can track your location. Other apps request access to your device’s camera, text messages and even phone calls.

Privacy permissions are no small concern in the age of constant digital connection. Do you value your alone time? Read on for ways to protect your privacy. 

Why Are These Permissions Requested? 

Typically, information is requested from apps for good reason; it makes a lot of sense that Google Maps and Uber need a user’s location, for example. And if you are sending images over a messaging app, it definitely requires access to your photos. But if an app requests personal identifying information (PII) that doesn’t quite add up, you have the option to deny that access. Before installing a new app and accepting its terms, ask yourself whether you understand what exactly is being requested, what the information will be used for, and if you’re comfortable sharing it. 

Tricky Malware Apps 

Not all apps are well-intended, either. For example, despite the efforts of both Apple and Android operators, malicious fake apps still find their way onto official app stores with the intent of stealing your sensitive information. Luckily there’s software that can prevent these kinds of attacks, such as this one by Malwarebytes that includes all in one security for your iOS system. Downloading this kind of malware protection will ensure that this threat is eliminated. 

Taking Matters into Your Own Hands

Once you’ve ensured that none of your apps are actually mischievous in their intent, you can focus on approving permissions that you’re comfortable with (and removing those that concern you). As Wired explains, “until stricter rules are in place, most of the onus still falls on the smartphone user to try to make sense of privacy permissions. And to know whether to give access to our camera, our photos, our locations, our lives.”

Ultimately, it is up to us to protect our own privacy. On an individual basis, the user must evaluate the privacy that their apps request and decide for themselves whether they agree to these terms. In addition, installing anti-malware software will protect your device from fake apps designed to use your personal identifying information maliciously. This wholistic approach will keep your information as safe as possible.