Apps called out over permissions

Five map app operators, including Baidu and Amap, have been ordered to change the way they ask users to share personal data, the Shanghai Consumer Council said yesterday.

Five map app operators, including Baidu and Amap, have been ordered to change the way they ask users to share personal data, the Shanghai Consumer Council said yesterday.

The order came after the council judged that these apps required users’ permission to share personal information, including information from text messages and contact lists. Such data is unnecessary to the functioning of these apps, the consumer watchdog declared.

Tencent also requires users’ permission to share their contact lists, while Sougou asked for permission to dial users’ phones, two functions not relevant to the use of these apps, according to the council.

One app, Mapbar, posed a “safety risk” by collecting sensitive user data without asking permission, the council said.

Baidu’s app required the most “sensitive permissions” among the apps, 14 in total, followed by Mapbar.

“If consumers give permissions to share personal information, it means these apps permanently have these permissions, which is not reasonable,” said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the council.

A survey from the council found that 97.63 percent of respondents had a map app on their mobile phone, and 40 percent had two such apps.

Some 82 percent of interviewees said they worried about personal information leaks via these apps, and 23.44 percent were “extremely worried,” survey results showed.

“Map service app operators should stop obtaining the permission of users to share personal data that is not related with the use of apps. And they should provide one-time permission choices for consumers regarding highly private data, like contact lists and short messages, to protect the privacy of consumers,” Tang stated.

“Regulations are lacking in this area, and the council calls for the establishment of rules and standards,” he said. The council also reminded consumers to be aware of the risks of granting data-access permissions to apps.

Mapbar was absent from a meeting with the council yesterday, but representatives from the other four operators were present and promised to make improvements.


Special Reports
Top