How to Navigate Health App Permissions

How to Navigate Health App Permissions

An assessment of the article from Wired magazine

SUBJECTIVE: This article published in Wired magazine discusses the long tail of privacy considerations that we need to think through when installing and giving permissions to apps on our smartphones, computers, and other internet connected devices. It brings to light the many different ways in which seemingly innocent functionalities that you turn on in apps can gather a lot of information that is often unknown to the user.



"Thanks to FaceBook, app permissions have popped back into the public’s consciousness again. Last month it was discovered that Facebook had stored the phone logs of Android users who opted sharing their contacts in the days before Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Then this week, during Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony, two representatives asked whether Facebook might be listening to private conversations through our phone microphones and using the info to serve up eerily specific ads. Zuckerberg responded definitively to the questions about the microphone conspiracy theory—“no”—then felt the need to add that Facebook does have access to audio when people record video on their devices for Facebook. “I think that is pretty clear. But I just wanted to make sure I was exhaustive there,” he said."
"But Zuckerberg’s do-si-do with Congress, rather than being clear or exhaustive, showed that people are still genuinely confused about what data their smartphone apps can and can’t access. That’s partly because of app permissions: They’re oversimplified and designed to offer a minimal amount of information, right as they’re asking for access to your data. And while they’ve improved just as apps have, it’s not enough to match the sophistication of the data-gathering technology that now surrounds us."



This article does not provide any concrete guidance on methods for reducing the amount of access that third-party apps have to your smart devices, but it does provide a number of links to similar reports outlining how companies, services, and games such as Facebook, Pokemon Go, and travel apps such as Path. It also provides some discussion on how application platforms such as Android and iOS are now including further constraints on how developers request and maintain permissions for accessing device information.



Informative article worth reading to gain a better understanding of the reasons why we should take the time to more consciously keep track of the permissions we give applications that we use.



Start with social networking apps that you use such as FaceBook, Twitter, Linked-In, SnapChat, and any others that you use on a frequent basis. Go into the privacy and sharing settings  and make sure that you agree with all of the permissions you are providing those applications.

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