Bugs or flaws are quite common with mobile operating systems, and there’s no OS without a bug or a glitch these days. We can take Windows Phone, iOS or Android, they’ve all got their issues. But some of these bugs or flaws are deliberate, and secretly kept under the wraps until developers or a whistleblower reveals the information to the world. One such (deliberate) flaw has surfaced on Android now, and Google apparently doesn’t want people to take it all that seriously. This new loophole provides a user’s contact information to the app developer when one of their apps is downloaded/purchased. Google clearly doesn’t have this in its TOC (Terms of Conditions), which is rather strange. What’s stranger though is that Google apparently asked the Australian news site news.com.au to edit its article title and SEO information so that the issue isn’t shown in bad light. The title of the story featured words like “massive”, which according to Google was an overreaction. The author of the post Claire Porter immediately changed the title by removing words like “massive” and “flaw” to make it sound more subtle. The edited title now reads – “Google ‘flaw’ puts users’ details on display“. Google apparently declined to comment on record about the issue.
Here’s what the author said about the issue in a subsequent post – “Apparently a system that is designed to share users information with developers without their knowledge or permission and without explicitly saying so in any terms of service is not considered to be a flaw“. So I guess Google is in defense mode regarding the issue, but we can be assured that the issue will raise some big questions in the coming days. However, a close inspection of the scheme of things over at Cupertino reveals some spicy details. Apple apparently has had this policy for a while as one of the developers cited by Apple Insider clearly mentions. It’s just that these companies like to keep these details under the wraps, so that the users don’t get a whiff of it. In this case, it was Aussie developer Dan Nolan who revealed the “flaw” in Google’s policy.
Okay, so how exactly will this harm the users? Well, when developers have access to your email address or any means of contact info, they can basically contact and threaten the users if they happen to not like the developer’s app and/or have claimed for a refund of the paid amount. We’re not sure if this applies only to paid apps, but even if it doesn’t, it’s not safe to reveal info to third parties without prior intimation to the users. It’s this sneakiness that troubles me, but well as long as I don’t leave bad reviews or claim for refunds, I’m safe, right? Jokes apart, Google seriously needs to make sure the users are told when their contact information is handed over to the developers. It’s a matter of principle after all. What do you folks think?