May 23, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Researchers at NC State University announced last month that they discovered a way to give Android users direct control over their data. The researchers suggested that no one should be forced to accept every permission request in order to use an Android app. Instead, users should be able to better protect their privacy and choose which data Android apps can access. The CyanogenMod team must share the NCSU vision because that’s exactly what’s available in the latest nightlies (pre-release test versions).
CyanogenMod users can now reject permission requests by downloaded Android apps. So if a wallpaper app requests permission to read personal information (contact data) and I feel uncomfortable, I can manually block access and continue to use the app. There’s a very good chance that errors may appear or functionality may break as a result of disabling certain permissions, but this at least gives Android users a choice that is otherwise unavailable.
Androinica.com has stressed the importance of reading permission request whenever installing Android apps, but that typically led to a take-it-or-leave-it decision rather than the more specific approach CyanogenMod offers. It’s still in the early stages and not ready for mass consumption, but it’s an important start all the same.
While this is an excellent step towards privacy reform, users should be cautious about denying permission requests by certain apps. There is often a very legit purpose for requesting those permissions, and certain features will no longer work if they are denied. In order to access this function, an Android phone must be rooted and running a nightly version of CyanogenMod with an 8x label. Download a compatible version for your device at CyanogenMod.com.
Here’s a video showing how to block permission requests using CyanogenMod.