Friday, March 2, 2012

Android apps can snoop photos, too

16 hrs.

It's not only iPhones that may share users' photos with various apps; Android phones, too, have the same flaw.

The problem is one of vulnerability right now; no one knows for sure which, if any, of the hundreds of thousands of apps that exist both for Android phones and the iPhone are accessing a user's photo library -- access that is given on the iPhone when a user approves the sharing of location information with an app. Still, it's not a good feeling to know that it's possible.

The New York Times, which has been reporting on the issue, said Thursday that Google's Android users are even a bit more at risk than those who have iPhones.

Android apps, "do not need permission to access a user?s photos, and as long as an app has the right to access the Internet, it can copy those photos to a remote server without any notice, according to developers and mobile security experts," the Times said. "It is not clear whether any apps that are available for Android devices are actually doing this." contacted Google to ask about the issue. A spokesperson said that Google is "considering adding a permission for apps to access images."

?We originally designed the Android photos file system similar to those of other computing platforms like Windows and Mac OS," the spokesperson said. "At the time, images were stored on a SD card, making it easy for someone to remove the SD card from a phone and put it in a computer to view or transfer those images.

"As phones and tablets have evolved to rely more on built-in, non-removable memory, we're taking another look at this."

The company said it wants Android users to know "We've always had policies in place to remove any apps on Android Market that improperly access your data.?

Apple has yet to respond to's query about the issue on the iPhone. We'll keep you posted.

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