Conan Troutman · Feb 10, 2013 at 06:00 am

OpenPDroid Brings an Open Source Privacy Solution

Privacy is a major concern for many users of mobile devices, and with good reason. Whether it’s financial information or private messages and pictures, many of us have a great deal of personal data stored on our devices and wish to take every possible opportunity to keep that information safe. While passcodeslockscreen patterns, and encryption can all help to keep these things safe from someone who might be able to physically obtain your phone or tablet, how can we be sure that this information isn’t accessible via an application installed on the device itself? Well, there is a way to control exactly what information any given app is able to access thanks to the long established PDroid modification.

PDroid has come a long way since its inception, and the project has been contributed to by various people. It has recently evolved into the latest incarnation, OpenPDroid, developed by XDA Senior Member FFU5y. So what exactly is OpenPDroid, in the words of the developer himself;

OpenPDroid is a set of modifications to the Android framework and libraries which allows fine-tuning of the data which applications are able to retrieve about your device, your account, your messages, and more. Specifically, it is a Privacy service provider (using the PDroid 1.51 interface) forked from CollegeDev’s PDroid 2.0, which is itself an extension of Syvat’s PDroid.”

Once integrated into a ROM and configured with the OpenPDroid Manager application, this modification intervenes when an application attempts to retrieve  information from your device. Whether it’s contacts, messages, or your phone number for example, OpenPDroid will provide either real, empty, fake or random data depending on your preference. And because it simply interjects the requested data without attempting to modify the applications permissions, it is much less likely to have undesired effects.

OpenPDroid differs from previous versions in some quite important ways. As well as general bug fixes and code optimization, it supports more recent versions of Android and corrects an issue that previously allowed some applications to bypass the modification entirely. The cherry on top is that it is also completely open source, and can therefore be compiled and contributed to by anyone.

This is more than just an application, and therefore getting it up and running is unfortunately not quite as simple as installing an APK. The mod either needs to be added to a ROM when compiling from source or for those of you who would prefer to use it with an existing ROM an OSX, Linux, and Windows auto patcher can be used to make the necessary changes. The process however is well worth the effort if you often find yourself concerned by the often extensive list of permissions required by many applications.

Check out the original forum thread for more information.


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