Usability versus privacy instead of usable privacy
- Publisher: ACM SIGCAS
A smartphone is an indispensible device that also holds a great deal of personal and private data. Contact details, party or holiday photos and emails --- all carried around in our pockets and easily lost. On Android, the most widely-used smartphone operating system, access to this data is regulated by permissions. Apps request these permissions at installation, and they ideally only ask for permission to access data they really need to carry out their functions. The user is expected to check, and grant, requested permissions before installing the app. Their privacy can potentially be violated if they fail to check the permissions carefully. In June 2014 Google changed the Android permission screen, perhaps attempting to improve its usability. Does this mean that all is well in the Android eco-system, or was this update a retrograde move? This article discusses the new permission screen and its possible implications for smartphone owner privacy.