Android Jellybean 4.3 users who wanted to limit the access of certain apps were able to utilize a privacy feature called  App Ops. Google, however, apparently did not intend the utility for public consumption and has disabled it on the Android 4.4.2.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit organization committed to protecting digital rights of the people, praised the company, Wednesday, for making such tool accessible by users but criticized it soon thereafter, upon finding out that the latest KitKat update (4.4.2) did not have it.

The App Ops tool allowed Android device users to filter out sensitive information such as contacts and location.

"This turned out to be the fundamental problem with the previous Android model: installing an app was an all-or-nothing proposition, and there were few practical ways to protect yourself against the apps you'd installed, or even really see what they were up to. This changed with the release of Android 4.3, which added awesome new OS features to enhance privacy protection," wrote project director of EFF Peter Eckersley of on December 11.

The admiration was short-lived with the release of KitKat. Upon inquiry of EFF, Google told the organization that the release of App Ops was not intentional. The privacy management tool was just an experimental feature that developers were able to tap and made available to users.

"Today, we installed that update to our test device, and can confirm that the App Ops privacy feature that we were excited about yesterday is in fact now gone," Eckersley posted on the EFF blog on December 12.

"The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people's data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago," he added.

EFF advised Android users who are not comfortable sharing their location or other information to decline the KitKat update.

According to reports, Google cannot disclose if Apps Ops will be a standard feature anytime soon. For now, those with rooted Android devices or those with CyanogenMod can still access the disabled privacy tool.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.