WeChat Responds to Netizens Opposed to Apps’ Background Access of User Photo Albums

A Chinese web user posted on domestic microblogging platform Sina Weibo on Friday, saying that “WeChat, QQ, Taobao and many other apps repeatedly read albums in the background system.”

The netizen says that after enabling iOS15’s new privacy feature ‘Record App Activity’ and monitoring the privacy reading behavior of all apps for seven days, and using ‘App Privacy Insights’ to read the records, they found that “WeChat read the user’s photo album several times in the background system without the user actively using the app. And each time, the reading lasted from 40 seconds to 1 minute.”

In addition, the netizen found that, as reported in the comments, QQ, Taobao and many other apps frequently read users’ albums in the background system.

(Source: Weibo)

The netizen expressed the following views in the Weibo post: 1. Photos are user’s privacy, and users are totally unaware every time the app accesses their privacy (from the reading time, users in sleep time). If the access is just to scan whether a new picture is taken, there is no need to make such an excessive request. 2. It occupies more system memory and seriously consumes battery life. RAM/battery life of mobile phones is wasted on this meaningless operation, which seriously harms the user experience.

On the evening of October 8, WeChat responded to the photo album processing issue, saying that the background reading is only conducted locally on the mobile phone itself, and the app’s latest version will cancel the use of the system capability and optimize the quick photo sending function.

The iOS system enables app developers to notify the standards of photo album updates. When the content of the photo album is updated, it will notify the app, reminding it that it can prepare in advance, and the preparation behavior of the app will be recorded as reading the album.

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According to WeChat, upon the premise that users have authorized WeChat to read “System Album Permissions,” WeChat leverages this system capability for fast image sending when users press “+” in WeChat chats.

As to the report, neither QQ, Taobao or any other tech company has given a response regarding the matter.