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EE...K: Why can't I uninstall carrier's sticky 'Free Games' app?

Plus: There is no such thing as a free lunch in ASDA

Application security programs and practises

Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S4 on EE? Have you downloaded the Infomedia Free Games Widget? Is it on your phone? If the answer to the first question is “yes” then the answer to the third one is “probably”, regardless of what you said to question two. EE has done it for you. And if you do what it asks when you install it, it might be a security risk.

The app arrives automatically when an S4 EE user updates Android; it seems that Samsung and EE have done a deal to squirt the software at you through the update. Although it is pushed to the user, they still have to click to install it. However, once a user has done that, it seems there is no going back.

The Free Games App software is a middleware platform which allows you to install a number of games. And what’s not to like about free games? Well it seems that once installed, the software runs automatically so there is a processor overhead. The free games are really trial versions.

The key to why it’s there is described on the Infomedia website:

INFOMEDIA is a leading provider of Customer Relationship Management and monetisation technologies to Mobile Carriers and Mobile Device Manufacturers.

And it genuinely is called a CPP (Carrier Proposition Platform), designed to let EE see what you are sharing and enjoying. Not only does the software install itself, when you ask it to run, it sends you off to the control panel to switch off your security settings. Not what corporate IT really wants in a BYOD world.

The Free Games App Infomedia iView platform is reportedly difficult to uninstall. It has now been removed from the Google Play store, but while it was in Google's Android app shop, it had one of the lowest scores possible – with just 18 people giving it five stars and nearly 800 giving it the lowest possible rating of one star.

We chased EE for a while for a reaction to this but all it was prepared to say was:

Recently there was an update to the Free Games App. As part of the update, customers were given the choice to allow app installation from outside of the Google Play store. At no point was security compromised - customers are still prompted on, and in control of, whether they would like to install an app or not.

You'll get free Wi-Fi. In return, they'll know you've been waiting for the diarrhoea relief aisle to, er, clear

Meanwhile on the high street, EE is looking at your shopping habits. A new deal with Asda means you can still stay connected in the cold aisle, but the EE-connected retail proposition will be looking at the Wi-Fi in a customer’s phone – tracking a smartphone's MAC address and then spotting where the customer lingers in the shop.

The information is anonymised unless you sign up for free Wi-Fi, and it is not held – which means EE doesn’t know if the same customers are re-visiting a shop or if there are lots of first timers.

When you sign up, however, the rules are different. As part of the quid pro quo for Wi-Fi, the shop gets to send you custom special offers, as you have to register with a phone number and you get an access code by text message.

Lingering by the nappies? How about a special offer on formula milk?

The technology appeals to the retail sector on the basis that it helps manage queues. If a lot of people walk in they will need more check-outs open, although this could just as well be achieved with a bell on the door. What a bell can’t do is give store managers and data analysts of real-time buying behavior to their tablets.

The free Wi-Fi doesn’t block individual competitor sites or stop you from looking at other supermarkets online to compare prices, but does block YouTube on the basis that it’s heavy on bandwidth. It also blocks adult content and gambling sites.

EE sees future directions with electronic shelf pricing and machine-to-machine connectivity, and as ever the mobile wallet and mobile payment is "a year away and will be a very big opportunity".

Free EE Wi-Fi has rolled out in 600 EE shops and EE has done a deal with 575 ASDA stores. Just don’t let them spot you buying a Vodafone SIM card. ®

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