Google asked to kill bloatware over security concerns

Arising concerns of bloatware on android phones as activists call on Google to protect its customers

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In an open letter from privacy activists, Google was urged  to set stern rules that govern Android manufacturers that pre-install bloatware on phones as such breach privacy.

Signed by a group of privacy activists including those from DuckDuckGo and the Tor project, the letter stated that most of the apps are never checked for malware or updated, hence often left with loopholes on user devices. The group composed of 53 pro-privacy campaigners.

“They are not checked for malware; excessive permissions and they have no update mechanism to fix known vulnerabilities,” noted the group adding; “The apps also have “privileged custom privileges that let them operate outside the Android security model. As a result, these apps can request permissions “without triggering the standard Android security prompts.”

The fact that 91 per cent of bloatware is not available on Google Play also means that the apps are often not compliant with many policies put in place that ensure Android users are safeguarded from malicious apps.

“We are concerned that this leaves users vulnerable to the exploitative business practices of cheap smartphone manufacturers around the world,” the letter read in continuation.

In the letter, the group also say that cheap smartphones are the most affected with pre-installed  bloatware, meaning that privacy becomes a privilege only to those who can afford premium handsets, the group argues.

The group further urges Google to mandate manufacturers to allow users to uninstall pre-installed bloatware and to ensure that all bloatware is subject to similar scrutiny like apps available on Google Play. They are also urge Google to ensure manufacturers have an update mechanism for such kind of apps.

According to the group, Google should not certify any device from a manufacturer that fails to adhere to these rules.

“We believe these changes would make a huge difference to millions of people around the world who do not have to trade their privacy and security for access to a smartphone,” the letter reads.

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