Ever wondered what information your apps are collecting about you? Ever felt overwhelmed by the number of permission settings on your phone? If so, read on…
Privacy Assistant is an app developed at Carnegie Mellon University by the Privacy Assistant project (http://privacyassistant.org/). The app uses machine learning to help users control the information that can be collected and used by mobile apps they install on their Android smartphones. It does so by asking users a small number of simple questions before recommending some possible changes to their permission settings.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You will only be able to use this app if you ALREADY have a ROOTED phone running Android 5.X. For Android 6 and 7 users, currently you have to have “Signature Verification” DISABLED in the Package Manager to use the app. This app has been developed as part of a research project at Carnegie Mellon University. It includes an optional study, which has been approved by Carnegie Mellon University’s Internal Review Board under IRB STUDY2015_00000026. The study involves collecting some of your data in anonymized form and making it available to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Prospective users are welcome to use the Privacy Assistant WITHOUT participating in the optional study. When installing the app, you will be prompted to indicate whether you want to participate in the study or not.
A copy of the optional study consent form is available here: http://mobile-ppa.andrew.cmu.edu/consent.html and will be shown to you when you install the Privacy Assistant app.
● Why do you need root? What permission do you use?
○ We use root privilege to actually apply the permission settings on your phone. Without it, the Privacy Assistant would not be able to modify your permission settings.
○ We use Internet permissions to support client-server interactions such as asking you about your privacy preferences, generating recommended settings, and collecting anonymous usage statistics.
○ We use bootup and notification permissions to show notices about permission settings.
● How do I install / uninstall the app?
○ When you download the app, just follow the instructions to install it. Under the app’s settings, you will also find an “Uninstall the Privacy Assistant” button. Using this button, you can uninstall the Privacy Assistant at any time.
● How does this app compare to XPrivacy?
○ XPrivacy (https://github.com/M66B/XPrivacy) emphasizes very fine permission settings and gives everyone the same recommendations. Our research shows that most users are only willing to devote so much time configuring their privacy settings and that not all users have the same privacy preferences. Our Privacy Assistant app uses machine learning to quickly help you identify which settings are right for YOU and to help you modify your settings accordingly.
For questions and feedback, you are welcome to contact [email protected]