Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are among 50 rights organisations urging Google to protect mobile phone users from “exploitative” apps which are pre-installed by tech companies which use the Android operating system on their devices. Android Inc has been owned by Google since 2005 and over two hundred businesses use Android including Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi, HTC, and LG.
Apps which can be downloaded via the Google Play app must follow certain security requirements, such as informing a user if they will access parts of a device like the microphone, camera or contacts. But these requirements can be circumvented by businesses by simply pre-installing their own apps which they don’t offer in Google Play.
These pre-installed apps can give themselves permission to access parts of a device such as the microphone, camera and location while leaving users “completely in the dark”. 91% of pre-installed apps are not available in Google Play, according to research conducted by tech specialists. A report conducted by security firm Kryptowire in November 2019 found 146 vulnerabilities, coming from pre-installed apps and firmware, in Android devices from 29 different companies.
Privacy International has launched a petition directed at Google to ensure equal protection for device users, irrespective of whether apps come from Google Play or are pre-installed. Android says their operating system is inside "2.5 billion active devices”. "Everything from 5G phones to stunning tablets, Android powers them all".