Most people love mobile apps because they are convenient to use while making online purchases. However, there are few who are still concerened about their privacy and security issues while using these e-commerce apps. They are of the view that such apps like Flipkart asked/take/use too much of their personal information which are “not required” and are being use for other purposes by the company or their staff . Here are few of the permission sought/used by Flipkart when you installed on your mobile device. (Our comments are in italics)
FLIPKART PERMISSIONS (taken ‘as is’ from Google Play):-
In addition to basic permissions, the Flipkart app needs access to other functions on your device for it to support the above features –
MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE IN THE APP LATEST UPDATE YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED ABOUT
* Profile / Contacts: To pre-fill your information wherever required so that you type less. We do not access your other contacts
We believe this pre-filling user info is pretty simple process. It can also be done manually. In fact, since you already entered your profile or contact number as required when you registered, why should Flipkart be want to access your Contacts? Moreover, Flipkart’s response is clearly “doubtful” as reported by Digit (Please read the full report why Flipkart and other apps like PayTM don’t require access to your Contacts but are doing it). We have enough reasons to be suspicious of Flipkart’s intention as it is reportedly planning to go app-only which means that they want to extract as many data from their users icluding your friends’ contact numbers.
* Device and App History: To detect critical crashes and recover the app state.
This permission can trace all your browsing habits besides critical information about your device OS.
* Identity: For native login functionality with your Google account.
Your identity… so you can look up the meaning of ‘identity’ on the web and it is pretty huge. A concerned user is sure to get goosebumps!
* Location: Providing location specific personalisation
Mobile apps are so smart that the geo-location feature can tell the company where you are shopping from. Revealing location information is still a big issue for many people and we as consumers should rightly be concerned as there is a huge opportunity for misusing the feature. Our trust is that Flipkart and other major players have a system that encrypts such info that hackers or workers cannot misuse the data collected by this geo-location feature.
* Photos/Media/Files: Caching images for better performance of the app. It also allows the app to save/share images
What concerns most sceptics is not the first part (which is pretty common for most apps), but the second section which states that the app allows saving or sharing your images. Would you allow anyone to share your pictures on from your mobile?
* Camera/Microphone: Camera is used for Barcode scanner and Microphone is used for voice search.
We are not sure how much control the app has over the camera… is it manual or always ‘ON mode’ while the app is being used? Or, is it only used when the user turns on the camera to scan the bar code? We are not sure again as this permission is being used by various developers to control camera behavious to varrying levels.
* Wifi: To allow the app to connect to wi-fi and browse Flipkart on Wi-fi
This is kind of normal… so no cause for concern.
* Device-id/Call-info: We use the Device-Id to identify the app and provide device specific offers. We do not check for call logs and neither do we make calls from the app.
Hmm… Flipkart may claim that it is using this crucial only for identifying the app and for customising their offers for specfic users, but it is still prone to misuse. As a consumer, think again, do you want some company/companies to get access to all your call information?
* SMS: To auto-verify One-Time Passcodes. We do not read existing messages.
First part is fine. Second section..hmm… you have to trust them again that they practised what they put down in writing.