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Info Praia: Association for the defense of rights advises against installing the app

The rules for access to the beaches will change with the second phase of the deflation, as Prime Minister Antnio Costa explained in a press conference at the end of the Council of Ministers. To ensure that the beaches are not too crowded and that distance can be maintained a sort of traffic light has been defined, with green, yellow or red lights depending on the state of occupation, and the information will be made available on the Info Praia app, by the Portuguese Agency for the Environment.

After this announcement, the number of downloads of the application skyrocketed, reaching first place in the Android application store and also in the App Store, for iOS.

Following the news from SAPO TEK, the association D3 – Defense of Digital Rights evaluated the application and explains that it does not advise its installation, alerting to the request for excessive permissions.

"For not having your code open and available, for asking for excessive permissions, and for not even providing a privacy policy, the Info Praia app already deserves a big red flag in relation to its use", says the association.

As published on the D3 website, "just a short visit to this app on Google Play is enough to verify that this app is actually an example not to follow"

The association states that location data, access to the microphone, storage, photos / multimedia / files, device ID and call and telephone information are requested. "In a first analysis, the authorizations requested by the app seem clearly excessive. However, some features may require the user to require this type of authorization", he refers, also indicating that "Unfortunately, we cannot know what data is collected by this application and how they are used, as the privacy policy listed on Google Play refers to the following address: https://snirh.apambiente.pt/index.php?idMain=1&idItem=2.1, which is not a privacy policy ".

The information was later updated, indicating that "some people report that the app no ??longer asks for all these permissions". The association says that "when visiting the Google Play page through the application itself on the mobile phone, it only displays the corresponding permissions for the appropriate app version for the mobile phone in question. To check the authorizations" for all versions of this application ", as appears in the image, you need to open the link browser ", and adds that"several D3 members confirmed that all of these permissions were listed by referring to the D3 page app through browser when publishing the text, as we have documented through screenshots and video ".

It is further explained that D3 is unaware of the reason for this divergence. "Maybe the app have since been updated or perhaps older versions have been removed. a question that we cannot answer with certainty, only those responsible for app will know how to respond ", admits the association.

APA ensures that the application is secure

After the SAPO TEK news, the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA) published a clarification on its website where it guarantees that the application is safe. "The Info Praia application was developed in 2019 to provide information on the bathing quality of Portuguese beaches. All information collected, location and favorite beaches, stored exclusively on the user's device and no personal information transmitted to third parties or the Portuguese Environment Agency", he says the publication.

The agency states that the application does not require user registration, thus not collecting any personal data. "The functionality of identifying favorite beaches within the application stored in the memory of the mobile device", indicates, underlining that "as can be verified through the installation of the application, the only permission that is requested from the user, at the time of installation, is the location , for the purpose of proximity and route directions via Google Maps. This fact is confirmed on the mobile phone itself, accessing the definitions and authorizations of the installed apps ".

According to APA, the Association D3 – Defense of Digital Rights refers to the image found on the Play Store (web version), which mentions that those permissions are for all existing versions of the application. "It is important to clarify that the versions that have been made available to the public, including this version 1.1.3, present only the permission requests identified in the image below, that is, location and internet verification (to access the contents of the application)".

The Beta version was not available to the general public, indicates the APA, also saying that "the Beta version was removed" and that the "reference to permissions such as that of the Microphone, which were withdrawn by the Play Store itself, leaving only those that version 1.1.3 and earlier have always needed ".

Editor's Note: The news was updated with the information published on the website of the Portuguese Environment Agency.