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Why do apps demand access to our photos and other data? © Getty Images

Why do apps demand access to our photos and other data?

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It may seem invasive when apps ask to access our personal information, but there’s usually a perfectly reasonable explanation. Usually...

Asked by: Mary Bell, Salford

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Apps on mobile devices live in a ‘Sandbox’. This access control technology is built into the operating system, isolating each app from your data, from other apps, and from the hardware of the device, in order to prevent accidental or deliberate damage. When an app needs to process some data, it must ask you for permission first. This is normally for perfectly sensible reasons: a photo-editing app needs access to your photos, or a voice recorder needs access to the microphone. Sometimes an app may want access to more personal information because it is trying to gather data that could then be used for marketing. If you feel your privacy is being invaded, the best thing to do is deny access to your data or simply delete the app.


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Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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