Although Android remains to be the most popular mobile operating system, the operating system has faced criticisms over the years due to the amount of bloatware included with the third-party products. And now, over 50 organizations including the Privacy International, Digital Rights Foundation, DuckDuckGo, and Electronic Frontier Foundation have written an open letter to Sundar Pichai regarding pre-installed bloatware on Android devices and how these apps contain privacy risks for users.
In the open letter, the participants said that all of the Android OEM pre-install their devices with apps that cannot be deleted. Moreover, due to these apps privileged custom permissions, they can bypass the Android permission model. As a result, these apps can gain access to a device’s microphone, camera, and location without users’ permission. Consequently, smartphone manufacturers can collect data without users’ permissions.
In order to solve this problem, the group has urged Google to introduce some changes to how Android functions. In order to resolve the privacy concerns, the participants want Google to give users ability to permanently uninstall these apps from their devices. As you might already know, although some of the apps can be disabled in Android, they can run on background which makes this entire process pointless.
Therefore, Google was urged to make these apps to go through same security checkups as the apps listed in the Play Store. While Google has made a number of changes with Android 10, it did not introduce any changes to the current OEM practices. As a result, it’ll be interesting to see if the search engine giant takes any action against bloatware that can exploit users’ data without their permission.