Google Cutting Android Tool Harms Privacy, Group Says

Google Inc. was criticized by a privacy advocate after disabling a feature in the latest version of its Android smartphone software that lets users choose which data can be accessed by applications during downloads.

Devices running Android 4.4.2 won’t be able to access options to filter out access to information such as location and contacts, Peter Eckersley, technology projects director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in a blog post Dec. 12.

The experimental tool was inadvertently included in an earlier release of Android and removed in the latest update, Google said in an e-mailed statement. The company has come under criticism for how it manages user data as it expands into new digital markets. Last month, Google reached a $17 million settlement with 37 U.S. states over its circumvention of privacy settings for some Internet users.

“It looked as though Google cared about this massive privacy problem,” Eckersley said. “Now we have our doubts.”

(Corrects date in first paragraph.)
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