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New Android update will enable apps to detect your screenshot activity

Tan KW
Publish date: Fri, 01 Dec 2023, 12:01 PM
Tan KW
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Taking a screenshot on your smartphone is no trivial matter. Depending on the case and the applications concerned, it can be subject to copyright or play a part in online harassment and piracy. Following in Apple’s footsteps, Google is now paving the way for app developers to restrict or even prevent users from taking screenshots.

According to 9to5Google, a forthcoming update to Android 14 could lead to the restriction of users’ ability to take screenshots. In fact, the operating system will reportedly allow apps to be able to detect when a user takes a screenshot.

To achieve this, Google will provide an application programming interface (API). Apps may then be able to use this information to restrict or even block screenshots. Eventually, it may also be possible to refine this constraint to specific areas of the screen, to protect sensitive information.

For the user, this will be reflected onscreen by a warning message or by the impossibility of taking a screenshot. Note that some applications already feature a blocking option, to be activated by the user. This is the case, for example, with Signal and even the Google Chrome browser.

Meanwhile, measures have already long been taken in this regard by Apple. Since 2016 and the launch of iOS 10, certain apps have been able to prohibit screenshots of all or part of the screen. This is true for streaming apps, such as Netflix, but also for messaging apps like Snapchat, Signal, Telegram or WhatsApp.

Taking screenshots of certain applications can indeed be problematic for a number of reasons, not least in terms of privacy protection. This is obviously the case with social networks and messaging services.

Screenshots may concern a private conversation or photo, and then be used as a means of threatening or harassing someone. Other screenshots may concern content protected by copyright. This applies equally to photos, videos and music.

In such cases, there is a risk that the screenshots will be shared without the authorisation of the owner or copyright holder. Finally, some screenshots may also contain sensitive personal information, such as passwords or bank details, which are particularly useful when hacking into an account, for example.

In any case, such restrictions are unfortunately not infallible, as there are ways of circumventing them, via third-party applications or simply by taking a picture of the screen with another device.

 - AFP Relaxnews

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