Friday, May 10, 2013

App Permissions - How much is too much?

I received a text message from Target offering me a $2 Target Card for downloading and trying a new app called "shopkick" - where you get rewards for shopping.

I definitely shop at Target, and I love a deal, so I thought I'd give it a try BUT I stopped short of actually installing the app. Here's a snapshot of some of the permissions they want. And I thought Google and Facebook were bad!

Just in case you can't read the text in the pictures, here's a list of what they want me to grant them access to:

  1. Storage: Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  2. Microphone: Record audio (REALLY!)
  3. Your location: Approximate location (network-based) precise location (GPS and network-based)
  4. Camera: Take pictures and videos (um... NO!)
  5. Bluetooth: Pair with Bluetooth devices
  6. Phone calls: Directly call phone number, read phone status and identity
  7. Network communication: Full network access
  8. Your social information: Read call log, read your contacts
  9. System tools: Test access to protected storage
  10. Affects Battery: Control flashlight, control vibration, prevent phone from sleeping
  11. Your applications information: Run at startup
  12. Network communication: Receive data from internet, view Wi-Fi connections, view network connections
  13. Your accounts: Find accounts on the device
According to the app description they have over 5 million current users who gave up their privacy for a $2 Target card. BUT they "love shopkick"! The craziest ones to me are #2 (record audio) and # 4. (take pictures and videos) Your phone doesn't even have to be on because if you note #10 (affects battery) they can prevent your phone from going into sleep mode! So when you plug your phone in next to your bed at night they can record audio and video? Yikes!

How much personal information do we give up every day without paying attention? Would you agree to grant them access in order to get rewards for shopping?

To see what permissions you've granted, you can go to and they will scan your apps and give you a list of all of the companies that you've granted permission to. In my case, there were 116 apps associated with Facebook that I had granted access to my personal information. None of them were even close to the permissions that "shopkick" was looking for, so I breathed a deep sigh of relief. 

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