While this website stays away from politics as much as possible, Australia is now entering election season. And while we could be up to four months away from the election proper various parties have already started spending money on ads and apps. This means that you might already be annoyed by the process before the main event has even happened. One of the early advertisers is Clive Palmer and he’s put out an app. But the app permissions might make you think twice about downloading it.
Irrespective of your views about Mr Palmer, his policies or his reputation, his app has been launched to try and get publicity for his election to the Australian parliament (again). Named The Humble Meme Merchant it’s not the most polished app on any of the stores, but you can see the intent.
However Humble Meme Merchant has a bit of an issue in that it seems to require app permissions from the user for a whole variety of things that it doesn’t actually need. Things like location, phone status and even reading your drive contents. This is obviously a ridiculous amount of access for an app that’s just basically an ad.
When sought for comment, the app’s creator Mr Tom West advised the ABC that the app permissions were just a simple error. He stated that at no time would the app actually read any of the data and send it back to base. However there’s nothing stopping any of this from occurring in Australia’s political rules. Also, once you’ve given permission, there’s nothing stopping the app or any future updates from actually mining your data later on down the track.
This also applies to the wider world of apps out there. When was the last time you downloaded an otherwise free app that seemed to ask for access to make calls and send text messages? Even worse a lot of these apps won’t function without these permissions. Everybody needs to be careful when downloading apps from any stores. It doesn’t matter if the store is tightly curated and how many positive reviews there are, users need to beware of whatever they’re downloading.