Popular Android browser app Dolphin Browser HD has been caught in what seems to be a virtual net amidst issues of privacy breach. According to reports by members of the XDA Developers forum, versions 6 and 7 of the said browser app allegedly log users’ browsing history and send the data to a remote server.
The issue, apparently, involves only the versions of Dolphin Browser HD that carries the RSS-based Webzine feature. Users of the browser’s “lighter” version, the Dolphin Browser Mini app, don’t seem to be experiencing the security breach.
Forum members noted that the app’s user license agreement does not explicitly state anything about information logging. The app itself does not alert users about information being sent to remote servers. The app’s end-user license agreement, though, says something about gathering “user experience data.”
The issue has caused several alarm bells to ring because it is a potential breach of privacy, something that that not very few people take likely. Comments on the forum also noted that users are not given the freedom to disable the logging function, but that on rooted Android devices, the server “en.mywebzines.com” can be put on the blacklist in the Android hosts file so that the device would stop sending data to the server.
MoboTap, the developer of the application, has attempted to clarify the matter and issue a hotfix. According to the browser app’s developer, users’ browsing information was never captured nor stored on their servers.
Fix Released Promptly
The development team was also “deeply sorry that [information about how Webzine functionality works] was not made clear to our users from the beginning.” The team also assured app users that “in terms of security, on a scale from one to ten, [the reported issue] is a zero.”
Dolphin’s developers consider the issue “non-critical” and immediately posted an updated version (7.0.1) of the app. The update temporarily removes the Webzine functionality.
Version 7.0.1, however, seems to have missed the mark, according to updates on the MoboTap blog, but app developers quickly rolled out an updated version (7.0.2), which they claim already resolves the issue. The most recent version of the Dolphin Browser HD is available from the Android Market.
MoboTap, however, plans to reinstate the “Toggle Webzine” feature in future app updates but will be providing users a way to opt in or opt out of the feature.