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Find Out What Kind of Information Apps Are Collecting About You With Privacy Inspector

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Privacy Inspector

The free Privacy Inspector lets you take a closer look at the kind of data your phone's apps are accessing. It also provides a more informative explanation of the significance of that data than the Android Market does.

First, you need to have Privacy Inspector scan your phone to discover all the apps on it. The apps then display in a grayscale thumbnail grid. You tap a thumbnail to select an app, and press the crosshairs icon at the bottom of the screen to inspect the app. Privacy Inspector examines the app code line by line, so the process can take a little while to complete. When Privacy Inspector is done, the app icon will appear in color with a summary of the privacy issues discovered.

You can tap the graph icon at the bottom of the screen to expand a report on the findings. Each app will receive an overall rating such as "Good" or "Bad," along with a detailed explanation of the kinds of data the app accesses and what that data could be used for. You can share the report via email, Facebook, or Twitter by selecting the envelope icon at the top of the screen.

The developer of Privacy Inspector also offers a paid version called Privacy Blocker. It has all the features of Inspector, but also offers the ability to "fix" the privacy problems it finds in scanned apps; basically, it rewrites the apps and changes the offending code.

It's worth noting that just because an app can access a certain class of data, the app isn't automatically dangerous or bad. AVG Anti-Virus is a good example, as it has a legitimate reason to access your device's unique SIM ID: It notes that information so that it can tell whether a thief has replaced the SIM card. "Fixing" this feature would break the app.

On the other hand, if you see that a game app has given itself permission to send text messages, that might be a problem that you should investigate.

Is Android privacy important to you? Contact Brent W. Hopkins on Twitter, and talk about it. You might also like other articles by Brent W. Hopkins.

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Privacy Inspector

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