Whether from OEMs or carriers, Android has always been having a bit of a bloatware problem. An open letter hit the web this week with the support of more than 50 privacy organizations pushing Google to act against Android bloatware.
Privacy International (via ZDNet) posted an open letter to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google / Alphabet, asking him to act against “exploitative pre-installed software on Android devices.” The letter draws statistics from a study that found that 91% of Android bloatware does not even appear on Google play.
Because these applications are pre-installed and cannot be removed as device apps, they may have more advanced permissions than an official app. In that case, they may leave more privacy loopholes the end-user doesn’t even know about. Examples of this have been given in the past too.
In the report, the following “urgent” improvements to the Android bloatware are requested on Google to take. Next, the users should also be allowed to review and delete any pre-installed app on their phones completely. Secondly, these pre-installed apps should “adhere to the same scrutiny as Play Store applications.” Third, pre-installed apps should have “some upgrade process” that does not require an account, and that Google should decline to approve devices with privacy concerns.
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“Android Partners – who use the Android trademark and branding – are manufacturing devices that contain pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted (often known as “bloatware”), which can leave users vulnerable to their data being collected, shared and exposed without their knowledge or consent.”
“We, the undersigned, believe these fair and reasonable changes would make a huge difference to millions of people around the world who should not have to trade their privacy and security for access to a smartphone.”
This letter has the backing of more than 50 other groups with a consumer privacy concern. Some notable names include DuckDuckGo and the American Civil Liberties Union.