Google silently removed a privacy feature through Android 4.4.2 update that was released few days back. Android 4.3 introduced Apps Ops privacy feature that allowed user to restrict apps from accessing location and contacts data, but this feature is missing in Android 4.4.2.
As reported by Electronic Frontier Foundation, according to Google, the feature was experimental and was released accidentally, it could break some of the apps that get restricted by it.
How are users affected?
App Ops should be a very fundamental feature and users should have control over data accessed by the apps. Absence of this feature allows the apps can easily get hold of user data with no way to stop them, breaching user privacy. People who are very concerned about their app privacy will find it extremely annoying. For some it may be a deal breaker and they might choose to abandon the platform and move to iOS which has tackled this issue long ago.
What should Google do?
Google should act quick and bring back the feature as soon as possible. If Google says that the feature affected performance of the apps, then it should better fix and improve it instead of removing it completely. Android should provide more control over app permissions like network access, IMEI, user account info and other data on the device.
What should users do now?
Android 4.4.2 is an important update and contains many bug fixes and improvements, especially for Nexus 5 users who will get camera app enhancements. However, if it is more important for you to maintain your privacy than getting security updates and other improvements, you should stay away from getting your device updated to Android 4.2.2. If you have already got the update you might want to flash back to previous version, but that is if the feature is absolute deal breaker for you. Otherwise, just hope that Google fixes the issue quickly.
Looks like Google has deliberately ignored user privacy in this case and in defense provided a lame excuse that it had released the feature by accident.