As of 2014, 64 percent of adults own smartphones (Pew Research Center). Smartphones allow internet connectivity for communication, entertainment, and more. The apps that provide users with funny videos or quick messaging require the user’s information; some apps collect more data than others. In fact, over half of smartphone users report deleting an app due to privacy concerns (Pew Research Center). People are using the same caution around their smartphones as their desktop or laptop computers. One of the major smartphone producers, Android, is aware of this caution and has developed much to help users protect their privacy.
There are several programs built-in to Android devices that can help a user protect their privacy. When using a Wi-Fi connection, Android can connect through a VPN, or virtual private network. This allows for more secure browsing on public Wi-Fis. Android offers data encryption (Washington Post). In all new Androids, the encryption feature is default, so users do not need to worry about setting it up.
The open-source nature of Android means that even if the company doesn’t offer something itself, someone somewhere has the ability to create it. This has been done by many apps, several specifically designed for privacy. These apps protect privacy in ingenious ways. One such app, XPrivacy, allows users to control what data apps have access to and feeds apps “fake” data to protect users’ privacy (Wired.com). And the makers of XPrivacy are hardly the only ones creating tools for Android users to protect their privacy.
Additionally, Android has previously allowed users to control what data apps have access to. For example, someone with a Twitter account can let the app “see” their camera and their location, but not let it see their messages or contacts (EFF.org). Unfortunately, the feature was removed in the next update. But the fact that it was available at all means that Android developers are aware of consumer’s privacy needs.
Despite Google’s reputation as Big Brother, collecting data and watching users’ every move, its phone operating system does seem to understand the need for privacy in the mobile digital world. Android’s open-source code gives others the ability to tinker with it so they can create tools to protect privacy, even if Android blunders in the area of privacy.