HTC Sense Privacy Issues Crop Up, But Who’s Surprised?


Looks like BGR’s done some digging and found that things aren’t as they should be on HTC Sense-enabled devices. The privacy concern comes in where HTC’s stock browser captures screengrabs of images at periodic intervals to use on Sense’s bookmark widget.


The files are stored (not forever) in a folder on the phone’s storage device (in the case of the reported device, HTC Droid Incredible’s internal flash memory) and do not get wiped if you do a factory reset. I’m not so sure this is as shocking and surprising as people are making it out to be: we’ve always known that HTC’s custom interface saves these snapshots in a hidden folder somewhere.

What we didn’t know, however, was that it’ll take snapshots of sites that aren’t in your bookmarks. It’s as simple as going in and deleting the folder using one of the file managers found on the Android market, but I can see where privacy becomes an issue. Short term solution? Go and delete that folder or reformat your SD card/phone’s storage if you aren’t feeling safe. Long-term? Just download another browser from the Android market and call it a day.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Definitely not the end of the world ( desire user UK ) Its only a problem if you have been visiting sites your wife/girlfriend wouldn’t be happy with :)

  2. Given that the site that reported this (BGR) actually lied, I think this story needs updating. They claim it was on internal storage, but the screenshot they provided shows it is on the SD card, just like every incredible user over at Engadget have confirmed. Not really an issue, as you would remove or wipe your SD card before selling your phone, unless you want whoever buys it to get all your music, your photo’s e.t.c

    It does this so it can show a preview of the websites when you are scrolling through the open tabs

  3. Meh. I use Dolphin HD anyhow.

  4. Skyfire saves screenshot as well, only they actually end up in your gallery.
    Skyfire sucks BAD.

  5. Don’t see this anywhere ?? Checked everything with Astro ? Doesn’t exist ?????

  6. Please, don’t jump on every engadget.com-train. These guys are all about headlines like the worst boullevard-newspapers (would be the “Bild-Zeitung” in Germany :) )

    In this case, there is an issue with the issue since the issue is no issue…but again a few 1000 clicks for engadget. Mission accomplished I would say ;)

    Best, R

  7. Engadget sucks for spreading FUD among unknowing users..

  8. @Steve you need to show hidden files in ASTRO’s preferences. Or open it in a computer.

  9. Hmmmm… This isn’t a Privacy issue at all. Every WEB browser cache’s pages and graphics from them for fast/redundant load capability. The folder IS on the SD card and the only people who probably should worry are the sexual derelicts! Pfffft, so “not” news!

  10. “Don’t see this anywhere”

    Hi Steve, I noticed this earlier today when mucking around with my photo storage.

    As indicated above, it’s hidden when you browse the card while it’s mounted in the phone. I had to remove the card physically (don’t ask why!) and put it in a USB adaptor – that’s when I noticed this folder. I did wonder what it was; now I’ll delete it.

  11. Agree with everyone here. Tired of seeing sensationalist garbage from engadget. This is not a privacy concern.

  12. I have uncovered far more worrying security concerns on Android. Apparently your personal photos are not removed from the SD card unless you remove them, so anyone could look at them.

    Furthermore, initial tests indicate that, should somebody gain access to your Android device, they could use that device to make prank calls to the local pizza place, which could be extremely embarrassing for anyone who tells their wife that they have Coeliac’s disease so that they can avoid eating her goddam pasta.

    When pressed for comment, a famous turtlenecked CEO said “Android phones are for porn. It’s all you can use them for. Well, it’s what I use mine for, anyways.”

  13. This is so stupid. Privacy concern? This “issue” is the same as storing a picture of your self on your sdcard..!

  14. I am not worried about it as a privacy issue but it is on the phones internal memory for me not on the SD card.

    Its on the same storage area as the HTCSync software.

  15. You all know what you better do? Delete your contacts and everything from your phone because it’s a potential privacy issue…..
    This is soooooo stupid, the only thing that would be a problems, was like someone said, if you’d be visiting sites you wouldn’t want others to see and even then you’d probably have to have them in your bookmarks. There has been a couple of times when it displayed the wrong website in the book marks for me though. For example, if the link was to Ebay and it showed the last page I visited on Phandroid.

  16. Haha! I found this on the very first day I had my Desire (launch day) and just figured it was something everyone was already aware of. I don’t see it as a privacy issue though – it’s your own fault if you’re stupid enough not to clear any images you don’t want people seeing and then letting them mess with your phone so they can potentially find them…

  17. Long term :
    Can be fixed by deleting the folder .bookmark_thumb1 and create an empty txt file .bookmark_thumb1 , no more thumbails…

    http://www.mobilesmods.com/2010/06/17/pour-les-paranos-du-sense-thumb/ (French news)

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