Recent versions of Android give users more visibility into the permissions that applications request to access certain features. This control revealed an unexpected situation: a security analyst was amazed when the company’s app Netflix asked for access to your smartphone’s physical activity sensors.
Apparently, the app is based on a new type of permission to recognize physical activity introduced with Android Q. This permission is intended to give a clearer view of which applications access sensors used to determine whether the user is walking or cycling, for example.
It is expected that apps for monitoring physical activity will request this permission, but this is not the case with the Netflix app, obviously. That was what led the analyst to question the company on Twitter.
Netflix did not respond, but Ivan Mehta of The Next Web, realized that the app had this type of permission enabled on his Pixel 3 XL, so he contacted the company.
This time there was an answer. The Netflix representative explained that the permission is part of a test aimed at improving the video’s playback quality when a user is on the move.
– Beto on Security (@BetoOnSecurity) July 27, 2019
The company also claims that only a few accounts have been included in the tests and that, for now, there are no plans to release features based on motion detection.
Even so, this test is strange, after all, it is not a good idea to watch videos on Netflix while you walk down the street or run in the park.
It is possible, however, that Netflix is interested in detecting user activity to improve streaming while he is in a car or on public transport, for example. It makes sense if we take into account that, in vehicles that move quickly, the internet connection can become quite unstable.
Apparently, everything is just a punctual test, without great pretensions. Anyway, we should keep an eye on.