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Android Development
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URI Permissions

The standard permission system described so far is often not sufficient when used with content providers. A content provider may want to protect itself with read and write permissions, while its direct clients also need to hand specific URIs to other applications for them to operate on. A typical example is attachments in a mail application. Access to the mail should be protected by permissions, since this is sensitive user data. However, if a URI to an image attachment is given to an image viewer, that image viewer will not have permission to open the attachment since it has no reason to hold a permission to access all e-mail.

The solution to this problem is per-URI permissions: when starting an activity or returning a result to an activity, the caller can set Intent.FLAG_GRANT_READ_URI_PERMISSION and/or Intent.FLAG_GRANT_WRITE_URI_PERMISSION. This grants the receiving activity permission access the specific data URI in the Intent, regardless of whether it has any permission to access data in the content provider corresponding to the Intent.

This mechanism allows a common capability-style model where user interaction (opening an attachment, selecting a contact from a list, etc) drives ad-hoc granting of fine-grained permission. This can be a key facility for reducing the permissions needed by applications to only those directly related to their behavior.

The granting of fine-grained URI permissions does, however, require some cooperation with the content provider holding those URIs. It is strongly recommended that content providers implement this facility, and declare that they support it through the android:grantUriPermissions attribute or <grant-uri-permissions> tag.

More information can be found in the Context.grantUriPermission(), Context.revokeUriPermission(), and Context.checkUriPermission() methods.

Android Development
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