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I'm having a hard time locating a QR code app for my (non-rooted) Android 7.1 phone that is privacy friendly.

Here are the options I've come across, along with the permissions I don't feel comfortable with:

  • QR Droid Private: the combinations of permissions below could lead to privacy exploitation

    • receive data from the internet (why???)
    • full network access
    • read and modify contents of USB storage
    • Privacy Policy links to a dead page
  • Lightning QR Code Scanner: What business does a QR reader have asking for the last 2?

    • view network connections
    • full network access
    • connect and disconnect from wifi
    • modify system settings (c'mon)
    • Privacy Policy links a pasted template that says nothing about the QR code
  • Private QR Reader Free: Has few reviews, so review score would be easy to inflate/manipulate. That aside, the most encouraging (though worst looking) app so far.

    • view network connections
    • full network access
  • QR Code Reader - No ads: this one claims "internet connection not required" so I got excited, until I looked at permissions

    • view network connections
    • allow Wi-Fi Multicast reception
    • connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi
    • full network access
    • Privacy Policy links to a different product

All I need is a simple reader -- it doesn't need to be able to create QR codes.

Why do they all want access to the network? I'm aware that I could use a firewall app to deny the QR app network access, but if there is an option that was truly designed with privacy in mind to begin with, I'd like to try that first.

I don't mind paying for the app, so long as it is lightweight.

migrated from android.stackexchange.com Oct 25 '17 at 19:03

This question came from our site for enthusiasts and power users of the Android operating system.

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    What about this? It requires just one permission, and it's open source, meaning that its workings can be inspected. I never tried it, so I cannot vouch in regards of whether it does the job. – Death Mask Salesman Oct 25 '17 at 18:55
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    @DeathMaskSalesman thank you. Consider putting that in an answer (and perhaps adding the app's homepage) for an upvote and maybe even a selection if I end up choosing this app! – BeetleJuice Oct 25 '17 at 19:14
  • BeetleJuice: I just see that "this" is the very same app I recommended (the first one, named "QR Scanner (privacy friendly)") … @DeathMaskSalesman made that comment while your question was still on Android.SE (where it was off-topic), he's not active here. Funny we had the same app in mind, must be a good sign :) Btw: ALL apps on F-Droid are open-source. – Izzy Oct 26 '17 at 7:03
  • "Why do they all want access to the network?" - not a definitive answer (because I'm by no means an expert about what permission means what on Android), but be aware that one of the main purposes of QR codes for many people is to quickly read wifi settings, which the QR code scanner app will then typically store in the system settings as access settings for a new wifi network. At least QR Droid also offers to create QR codes and to share them online using various services, as well as a built-in "contact support" option for online correspondence with user support. – O. R. Mapper Oct 26 '17 at 20:28
  • That notwithstanding, it is interesting that you Lightning QR Code Scanner seems to require so many permissions, given that its description explicitly states: "QR code reader was designed with camera only permission granted. If you are very concern about personal privacy , this is right QRcode scanner app you need." – O. R. Mapper Oct 26 '17 at 20:31
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Whenever looking for privacy friendly apps, F-Droid is the place to go. You can also check my list of barcode readers (note: my site also has a special search engine for cases like that, where you can e.g. filter by permissions). In the lists, watch out for two things:

  • the F-Droid icon
  • the permission boxes

So the best candidate for your specific case would be an app with the F-Droid icon, a very low number of permissions (best: 1, as it needs camera), and no "red frame" around that number. By that rule: the QR Scanner (privacy friendly) seems to be the perfect candidate:

  • requires just the camera permission
  • developed by the SECUSO group (specialized on privacy-friendly apps)
  • 2.3 MB APK size, so it's quite light-weight by today's standards
  • good rating
  • understands the most common use cases (eg. VCards, product codes, email addresses, URLs)

Another candidate would be SecScanQR, which even can generate QR codes but also just requires the very same one permission: to access your camera, so it can read QR codes.

  • thanks a bunch. I will try your suggestions. I've also come across Obsqr which seems great if all you need is to scan and immediately act on the scan (eg. immediately open a page). – BeetleJuice Oct 26 '17 at 13:23
  • Note that the links you posted to your resources require login. – BeetleJuice Oct 26 '17 at 13:38
  • Good find, Obsqr is also in my list (links fixed, please try again). – Izzy Oct 26 '17 at 14:34

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