A series of Samsung apps that allow customers to control their internet-connected appliances require access to all the phone’s contacts and, in some cases, the phone call app, phone’s location, and camera. Customers have been furious about this for years.
This is a common complaint.
These situations speak to two issues: Apps that demand permissions that they don’t need, and “smart” and internet of things devices that make formerly simple tasks very complicated, and open up potential privacy and security concerns.
Generally speaking, over the last few years, people have become more sensitive to what they’re giving up in privacy and potentially security when they deal with big tech companies. Smart TVs (Samsung included), for example, have been caught listening to users and automatically deliver ads. Tech companies have had to adapt and do better. For example, both Apple and Google allow users to see what data an app has access to, and in some cases users can toggle the permissions individually. The upcoming new version of Android will even have a dedicated “Privacy Dashboard” where users can see which apps used what permissions, and revoke them if they want. Apple’s iOS has similar functionality. But none of this stops app developers from asking users to accept unnecessary permissions.
It’s unclear why apps that are designed to let you set the type of washing cycle you want, or see how long it’s gonna take for the dryer to be done, would need access to your phone’s contacts. In an FAQ for another Samsung app, the company says it needs access to contacts “to check if you already have a Samsung account set up in your device. Knowing this information helps mySamsung to make the sign-in process seamless.”