Meanwhile, dozens of apps were found to have the same type of access to sensitive information as known spyware does, including access to the content of e-mails and text messages, phone call information, and device location, said Dan Hoffman, chief technology officer at SMobile Systems.
It seems clear that with unsigned apps and minimal vetting for its market place, Android’s (well, Google’s) priority is not security. When you’re trying like mad to offer as many apps as the iPhone you don’t have time for such things. Apps with security issues have been pulled after they’ve been on the market and enough users complained. It such cases the end user is doing the real vetting.
Problem is, not all apps are obvious about what they do. Sooner or later that comes back to haunt the end user, which leads to the real issue: Google doesn’t care that much because the end user is not their customer. I’m not saying Google wants third-party apps to be invasive without user permission, only that preventing it isn’t a priority. The end user doesn’t pay Google for their services, and are not their customer.
Similar to Facebook, Google’s customer isn’t the one using the product every day, but rather the marketing, ad, and analytics firms that make use of the massive amounts of data being gathered. There’s nothing wrong with this—it’s just a business model—but it’s important to know Google’s customers to understand Google’s priorities. Indeed, philosophically Google may not even have an issue with these apps. Google’s been gathering your data for years.
I’d like to see Google take some action on this. Get ahead of the game and make changes to the market place for vetting this stuff. Google can talk “open” all it wants, but they have a responsibility for what’s on their store. They have no issue refusing apps that violate copyright or other firms’ TOS, but that’s all in the interest of their real customers. It’s time they treated the end user with a little respect and looked out for her as well.