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Features and new additions will invariably come and go as new technology catapults to the forefront of our minds, but no matter what happens, there will always be some aspects of this software that will remain extremely important to users. Security and privacy are undoubtedly two extremely important areas of concern. Just as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) started to wax lyrical about Google’s new focus on user privacy, it turns out that they have actually recently removed the biggest privacy feature that has been added to Android over the years.

The recently added App Ops within Android allowed users to drill down to levels of privacy granularity that hadn’t been experienced before. The functionality essentially afforded all Android users the ability to go over their app settings with meticulous detail and limit what each app can and can’t do on an ad-hoc basis. The EFF was clearly impressed with the implementation of this feature, Google on the other hand states that it should never have actually been released and have acted swiftly to remove it entirely from the operating system.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation believe that App Ops was a huge improvement to the Android ecosystem. The ability for users to select an installed app and immediately view the different types of data that the app wanted to collect to improve its service was an eye-opener at worst and a life-saver at best.

The ability to simply allow or deny the app access to certain data made things extremely manage to handle. However, Google is of the belief that the functionality could actually break apps and provide a negative user experience.

EFF Projects Director Peter Eckersley has taken to writing a blog post on the topic to actually get across how miffed the foundation is about the removal:

The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people’s data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS yeas ago.

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Google’s official stance on the matter is that the feature is still in an internal testing mode and shouldn’t have been made public, hence it was removed with the release of Android 4.4 KitKat. Certain apps available on the Play Store genuinely require access to certain data and restricting that could introduce a myriad of additional issues. It’ll be extremely interesting to see how this one develops and if the feature makes it back in a future release.

(Source: EFF)

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