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Privacy Blocker Released on Android, Remove Vulnerable Personal Info from Any Application

Over the last week or so, I’ve had the opportunity to test a new app called Privacy Blocker from Xeudoxus, one of the great developers in the Android community.  All I can say is, that this app couldn’t have come at a better time, especially after that DroidDream malware scare that took the Android world by storm over the last couple of weeks.  

So what exactly is Privacy Blocker?  It’s brilliant actually.  During a time when so many of us care so much about privacy, this app allows you to control that in ways you never dreamed possible.  Privacy Blocker lets you scan your entire app collection to see what kinds of information is being accessed and then fix it from doing so if it looks fishy or simply seems like something unnecessary.

You can scan apps individually or batch them and then sit back and watch PB offer you recommendations of items that it stumbled upon.  From there, you can tell the app to “fix” anything it found to be a vulnerability.  To “fix”, PB appears to uninstall the bad app and either re-package or somehow trick the app on a re-install so that the same information is no longer being accessed.

Backups of apps are made to your SD card, it allows advanced users to fully tweak “fix” values, and as an added bonus, has a pretty UI.  This is one heck of a security app if you ask me.

There are 2 versions available right now:  one that allows you to scan only, and another that allows you to scan and fix.  Privacy Blocker is the full version of the app that allows you to fix and is available for $1.99 (limited time).  Privacy Inspector is the version that only lets you scan, but might be a good starting point for many of you.

Privacy Blocker ($1.99) | Privacy Inspector

  • Debra Wesley51

    I like this. Is it better than Lookout?

  • http://twitter.com/Smooth918 Smooth

    Man! It just make Good Damn sense to stop by Droid-Life several times daily, there’s always something New and Useful, Thanks.

  • The350zWolf

    Wow this is a great idea and a great app. This will keep shady apps at bay, no more big brother syndrome. Thanks Xeudoxus, happy to pay my $1.99 :^)

  • Larry

    I like the idea behind the app, but I have one question, why does it need to read my contact data to run? That seems like one of those permissions that are unnecessary, and which this app is supposed to be guarding against.

    • Anonymous

      LOL a little irony in the afternoon to keep me going!

  • Ricky

    I downloaded the Privacy Inspector to test it out, First it only found the apps I downloaded or installed not the preloaded bloatware from verizon so no telling what apps like blockbuster is collecting.
    it would totally shut down when I tried to scan office suite poor, I am using lookout and it has a feature to find my phone if it is lost. Privacy Inspector flagged it as bad because it has finds your location and user ID HELLO how can the app find my phone if it can not see where I am or have a way to ID My phone? so it it tricks an app like lookout with fake data it will not work like it should. I think this is a good idea but need a little refining

    • Anon

      Menu Button –> Settings –> Check System Apps

    • The350zWolf

      I think that Privacy Inspector/Blocker are just tools to use. The user (this means you) needs to know where and when to use the right tool for the right job. Do you agree that you can’t use a vise grip for all jobs?

    • Anonymous

      When it starts up, click “system apps” and it should see the built in poo.

  • Anon

    Skype – the pre-loaded bloatware – 8 problems. F U Verizon!!!!!!!!

  • DaDonkey

    Droid Life app gets a BAD rating

  • Booboolala2000

    I wonder if Google will pull this app? Don’t think that they would be too happy about someone else policing their market. Who knows though?

  • http://www.twitter.com/jimmyontheradio @jimmyontheradio

    This sounds like one of the best ideas out there for Droid to date. Random personal info collection is one of the reasons I originally bailed on my Droid. My iPhone contract is done soon (and I cannot wait to get back to Verizon) so I’ll have to look at Droid X2 and Thunderbolt soon.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    hey, anyone know the background used in the Privacy Inspector app?

  • FortitudineVincimus

    Little Snitch for the Drioid

    love the idea, the whole uninstall and reinstall some altered version seems odd.. why not just block the data sent?

  • Haneyg

    NOTICE: This app WILL break your market links and updates for apps. There is no way around this. On the DroidForums Xeudoxus meantions this and offers his workaround:

    “Because the modded apps are being resigned with test keys. Updating them from the market will require removal of the modded one before the new one can be downloaded/installed. (There is no way around that even with root), but im working on a nice solution (If you detect a market update then tell my app to “update the app” and it will auto uninstall the modded .apk, download the update, and rescan)”

    However, for those of you like me modded apps are a dealbreaker if the market link is broken. So, no Privacy Blocker.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the heads up – unfortunately this is a deal killer for me, even at $2.

    • DroidzFX

      Majority of the apps that exceed permissions are ones that are usually not used that frequently. A lot of wallpaper apps or casual games exceed permissions. I dont think if you dont get the newest updates from these guys is going to hinder the app much. Hey but its your data. If you need sexy asian wallpapers constantly updated then by all means don’t scan and fix the app.

      • The350zWolf

        Yes, indeed, also there are many apps where the older versions are better than the newer ones (e.g. Talking Tom, LastFm amongst a few others) where you DO want to keep the old app version and break the market link. I’ve been doing this with Titanium, but now Privacy Blocker makes my older apps run with better privacy settings. I thinks that this app is not for everyone and certainly YMMV on a case-by-case basis.

    • http://twitter.com/sparkimus Bret Williams

      Odd, my market links are intact. I can see how the upgrade process could be borked, but the link is still there, and I can launch the fixed apps from within the market.

  • jwd45244

    Privacy Inspector: FC during initial App Scan on CM7 Build #13 (OG Droid)

  • Rickerbilly

    Do not use.

    • FortitudineVincimus

      yeah, why?

    • bad4u6669

      Thanks for your very useful post. Now I dont have to try the app for myself. Again thanks for your help.

  • Fallsgable

    Should I do a full Nandroid first, BEFORE letting this app, work it’s voodoo!?! The last thing I want is to render apps that WERE functional before, into constant “FC” situations….anyone have enough long term hands-on with this to know that this WON’T cause FC allthe time??
    and, if I understand it correctly, it will FIX the “privacy” issues in the apps by automatically backing up user pref’s, un-installing, then re-installing the app all by itself from the market???

    • Anonymous

      I back up my ROM before I do anything “new” like this. Better safe then sorry. This is an intriguing app though.

  • pezjono

    If it modifies the package and re-installs a program, do you lose the market link with that program (will you still get updates from the market)? And if it does and you do update an app, do you have to rerun Privacy Blocker to re-block it?

    • Haneyg

      This is extremely important. If it does not restore the market link, then I will not use it.

    • http://twitter.com/sparkimus Bret Williams

      The market link stays. I just checked on 2 apps that I had fixed (1 paid and 1 free)

  • JRummy16

    This is an awesome app. Matt (xeudoxus) is the man and there is going to be some great updates planned.

  • http://iamandroid.co/profile/rocktoonz Rocktoonz

    This sounds fantastic, but I wonder if tinkering with these apps can cause legal issues by messing with these settings. You have to agree to allow them permission to access certain information, and “tricking them on a reinstall” seems like a huge violation of those requirements.

  • http://iamandroid.co/profile/rocktoonz Rocktoonz

    This sounds fantastic, but I wonder if tinkering with these apps can cause legal issues by messing with these settings. You have to agree to allow them permission to access certain information, and “tricking them on a reinstall” seems like a huge violation of those requirements.

    • Anon

      To heck with that. They’re not explicitly explaining what they’re collecting other than a general category and they don’t tell you what they’re doing with it. There’s no reason why a game app should be collecting personal info – if you want to make money on free apps – do it with adds.

    • Anon

      To heck with that. They’re not explicitly explaining what they’re collecting other than a general category and they don’t tell you what they’re doing with it. There’s no reason why a game app should be collecting personal info – if you want to make money on free apps – do it with adds.

  • DroidzFX

    Just the app I was talking about. Works great!!!! Blocking permissions as we speak. Suck on that Facebook and all you other hooligan apps.