|by Mark A. Hicks|
One topic that has been coming up recently in conversation with all the media buzz around NSA, security and Skynet conspiracy theories, is app permissions. Each app that I download seems to have additional permissions that seem very invasive. Don't get me wrong, eight out of ten times I am still going to download the app, however I need someone to explain to me why a flashlight app needs permission to take pictures and videos without my confirmation. Another permission that seemed a bit troubling was an app that asks for permission to my messages and asks for the ability to edit, read, receive, monitor and possibly delete my text messages without making me aware of the actions. I'm not concerned yet about Neo having to levitate in on the Nebuchadnezzar and save humankind from intelligent machines, rather where is the line for why an app needs permission for deleting a text that I haven't read yet?
I am not going to retire my beloved Android phone because of a few app permissions I think may be stretching a bit, at least Android makes me aware of these permissions. What is a good idea is to take some time and become more familiar with why an app may need the permission it is asking for. I stumbled across "Why Does This Android App Need So Many Permissions?" article on lifehacker.com that contains a number of great resources on app permissions, why they are necessary for certain app functions and what to look out for. With close to a million Android apps and over a million apps in the iPhone app store, it is safe to say that we need to be aware of what we are downloading to our pockets. As a bonus, this may be a great opportunity to introduce our younger generation to Arnold and the T1000 in a teachable moment about becoming responsible cyber citizens!