Android has always had issues with bloatware, regardless of whether its form carriers or OEMs. Recently, an open letter made the rounds that pushed Google to take some sort of effective action against bloatware on Android. The letter had the backing of more than 50 privacy organizations. Privacy International posted this open letter to Sundar Pichai, the Google/Alphabet CEO, requesting him to take action “against exploitative pre-installed software on Android devices.” It quotes a study that found that as much as 91% of Android bloatware doesn’t even appear on Google Play Store. This open letter was posted via ZDNet.
Since these apps come pre-installed and are system apps, these cannot be deleted. This means that they have advanced permissions when compared to your other regular apps. This could also mean that they will have more privacy loopholes which cannot even be detected by us users. These kinds of things have happened in the past.
The Open Letter and its Contents
The letter requests Google take urgent action against Android bloatware. The very first request states that the users should be able to delete any pre-installed app on their device fully without any conditions. The next request mentions that these pre-installed apps should “adhere to the same scrutiny as Play Store apps.” This is a pretty good point and one which we all tend to ignore or conveniently forget. Thirdly, pre-installed apps should have “some update mechanism” that doesn’t need an account. Google should not certify devices having privacy issues.
Android Partners are those who make use of the Android trademark and branding. They are manufacturing devices that have pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted. These systems apps are often referred to as Android bloatware. The mere presence of these apps could make users vulnerable. This involved being unaware about their data being collected and shared without explicit permission or indeed, their knowledge. The letter ended on a note as mentioned below.
“…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.”
Following the end, the letter had the signatures of more than 50 organizations. The signees were mostly who focus on consumer privacy. Some well-known names in the list included American Civil Liberties Union and DuckDuckGo.
The open letter requested Google to take action against Android smartphone manufacturers who sell devices having pre-installed apps that cannot be removed or deleted. As many as 53 organizations have backed up this letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. These organizations believe that Android bloatware could be harmful to user privacy. The main reason behind this is that we cannot delete most bloatware apps. This makes the users vulnerable to the crooked vendors and app makers sharing their data.