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Google is Adding a Restricted Networking Mode to Android 12

Google has created a new firewall chain to support the restricted networking mode. Only apps that have the use restricted networks permission will be allowed to use the network.

Move over Android 11. The first Android 12 Developer Preview is required to go live one month and there isn’t a lot of information we have on the following major software update that Google will turn out. A deep drive into the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) uncovers limited data and the bulk of Android 12’s codebase isn’t public, as XDA Developers reports.

However, according to reports, people have spotted proof for some new Android includes in AOSP. One of the feature spotted is inside being known as the “Restricted Networking Mode”. This is not a configurable firewall as one would hope for, but “it does have some interesting implications”.

According to reports, “a handful of commits merged to AOSP describe a new restricted networking mode feature”. So, Google has essentially created a firewall chain, which is a set of rules that the Linux iptables utility follows to block or allow network traffic, to make the restricted networking mode. When this mode is turned on through the Settings, only apps that have the “use restricted networks” permission will be allowed to use the network.

This permission must be allowed to privileged system applications and applications signed by the OEM. This means that network access will be blocked for all the applications that the user has installed.

This also means that you will still get push notifications from applications that use Firebased Cloud Messaging (FCM) “since these notifications are routed through the privileged Google Play Services app that holds the requisite permission”. However, no other app, except for a bunch of other system apps, can receive or send data in the background.

It isn’t clear where Google will put the toggle for the restricted networking mode in Android 12, reports suggests that it very well may be toggled at runtime and “programmatically queried via shell command, much like Android’s Data Saver feature”. It is not known whether Google will let users make their own blocklist and allowlist of apps.