The tightening of access to Android phone data by third-party developers is years past due. Some app companies have actually had their employees access and read app users' personal emails as part of their research on how to improve their product.Google is about to have its Cambridge Analytica moment. A security bug allowed third-party developers to access Google+ user profile data since 2015 until Google discovered and patched it in March, but decided not to inform the world. When a user gave permission to an app to access their public profile data, the bug also let those developers pull their and their friends’ non-public profile fields. Indeed, 496,951 users’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status were potentially exposed, though Google says it has no evidence the data was misused by the 438 apps that could have had access.
Google made that announcement about the findings of its Project Strobe security audit minutes after the WSJ report was published. The changes include stopping most third-party developers from accessing Android phone SMS data, call logs and some contact info. Gmail will restrict building add-ons to a small number of developers. Google+ will cease all its consumer services while winding down over the next 10 months with an opportunity for users to export their data while Google refocuses on making G+ an enterprise product.
Google also will change its Account Permissions system for giving third-party apps access to your data such that you have to confirm each type of access individually rather than all at once. Gmail Add-Ons will be limited to those “directly enhancing email functionality,” including email clients, backup, CRM, mail merge and productivity tools.
Yep. Those permission notices you blow right past while installing an app or a Gmail add-on? They often allow the app developers to do that kind of stuff.
And all these young kids (compared to me) said it didn't matter. That nobody cares about that anymore. That everyone knows that stuff happens, anyway.