October 1, 2014

Latest Pandora Radio Security Permissions Leaves Listeners Puzzled

Pandora Radio, one of the most popular streaming music options out there, recently updated their Android application.  While updates are nothing new, the access the app requested left Pandora fans on Android wondering and quite puzzled.  Previously when installing updates, Pandora listeners were asked to grant the app internet access only.  Now in addition to the internet access, listeners are ask to grant the app access to contacts, something which leaves all of us a little confused.  At first glance, I thought that perhaps Pandora needed access to this for song sharing, but I really wasn’t sure. Time for a little Android Guy investigation.

In order to dig deeper we at Android Guys reached out for a statement from Pandora.  We asked why they needed access to a users contacts.  See their response below:

“We request contact access so sharing songs can be quick and simple.  When someone is listening to a song they like and want to share, that access enables us to immediately display their contact list so listeners can pick the friend(s) to whom they want to send that song.   That’s the sole purpose of the access request.  We don’t store, or save anyone’s contact book information, or access it for any other reason at any other time: we just access it for people in that specific instance.

We’re not able to make that explanation on the Android OS screen when it asks for permissions,  so it comes up as you noted below and can seem startling.   I’m glad to have this opportunity to clarify to Android users that the request for access is for the very basic reason: to make for an easier sharing experience that contributes to a more robust Pandora experience.  Thank you.”

While this response is honest enough, we should always remember that Android is an open platform, so there’s no walled garden protecting users from questionable practices. The benefit of having a phone that provides more freedom with apps means that you also have to take on the responsibility of policing your device. Always read the permissions before installing and think about why certain apps make certain requests. Whether it is Pandora or some random third party app, always keep an eye out.


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