New Cyanogen Partnerships Bring Privacy Concerns

New Cyanogen Partnerships Bring Privacy Concerns

New Privacy concerns have emerged regarding Cyanogen’s latest announcements, primarily the inclusion of email app Boxer and that of a multitude of Microsoft apps, including Bing services, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office. The concerns arise when you look at both announcements together. At face value they may appear to be the beginning of Cyanogen’s plan to “take Android away from Google,” however there is certainly something more nefarious occurring.

Along side the partnership with Microsoft, Cyanogen also recently announced a partnership with email app Boxer, which will be the default email client in future versions of Cyanogen OS. Boxer is an email app like many others, priding itself on being exceptionally customizable.  It allows you to import accounts from a variety of email clients such as Exchange, Gmail and Yahoo. The app also has built-in integration with a multitude of apps including Evernote, Box, Dropbox and Google Drive to name but a few, allowing you to use them within the Boxer app. Evernote and Dropbox may not be known for their security, in fact towards the latter half of last year, 7 million Dropbox accounts were compromised due to third-party applications and similar issues have been seen with Evernote. The privacy concerns are not based in this third-party app integration but instead in two sections of the Boxer Privacy Policy.

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As you can see, not only do they collect data on your actions and “others”, without further clarification we can only assume this data may potentially contain information that the majority of us would rather not be handled by other organizations. It is currently not know how far this data collection extends and could well contain information on the third-party apps integrated in to the service. Furthermore they continue to state that personal information is then provided to affiliates and other trusted businesses, which as of today may not only include Cyanogen but also Microsoft. Their statement on the use of your contacts information is delightfully vague, and only states that it will be used to provide the service.

cm_boxer_press (1)The majority of Microsoft apps coming to Cyanogen require either a Microsoft account or the far less likely a federated login through your Cyanogen account. Either way, this is yet another email address potentially available to Boxer along with your primary email. It has already been stated that the new apps will be uninstallable, but it has at no point been mentioned with exactly whom your data is shared with or what constitutes “trusted businesses or persons”. Before deciding to mine your data, Cyanogen may well desire to inform us just who will have access. Whilst Gmail has similar practices when it comes to your data, it is Cyanogen that state “We Stand For Openness”. This is an integral part of who they claim to be and one of the reasons people use their software. It is when these values are ignored that trust and consumer-OEM relations begin to break down. With Google we know where we stand, they will take our data and do with it as they wish, we know it and they know we know. The fact that Cyanogen still (hypocritically) claims to be against Google’s Android and practices shows just how far from their initial values they have strayed. The entirety of the new partnership has thrown doubt on to the “open future” of the company.

For now many of us can take consolation in the fact that CyanogenMod will not be receiving the same currently flawed service in future updates. Users of Cyanogen OS for now can only hope that either Boxer or Cyanogen will make a statement about just who will get their hands on your personal data. Of course they have thus far made no effort to inform people of these policy arrangements and appear to be in complete denial on the subject, going as far as to claim that this is for the benefit of the users. To that effect I leave you with a quote from Boxer’s open letter regarding the partnership earlier today, take from it what you will.

“The launch of our partnership with Cyanogen marks a major shift in the mobile landscape. No longer are users forced to use second-class software or services that further the agenda of the companies behind their platforms …  …Users now have a choice – an open operating system in Cyanogen that is bringing best in class products and services together to form a single cohesive platform.”

Do you have privacy concerns regarding the new partnerships? Leave a comment below!

For more coverage on Cyanogen’s partnerships check Aamir’s feature: Cyanogen Announces Strategic Partnership With Microsoft.

Or continue reading about the War For an Open Android!

About author

Mathew Bloomer
Mathew Bloomer

He fell in love with Android after buying a T-mobile G1 in 2008 and hasn't looked back since. He firmly believes the future of technology lies within bio-hacking and is an NFC implantee.