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Google’s Data Collection Abilities

Recently, I was listening to CyberJungle’s latest podcast release and they mentioned something I found quite interesting. They talked about an article posted on ComputerWorld about how android phones are secretly collecting WiFi passwords and sending it off to google. For more details I encourage you to read if you aren’t already aware of this information. Interesting stuff. Although, most in IT related fields are well aware of Google’s data collection abilities.

I had a personal experience some 3 months back, where a friend’s Samsung Galaxy S4 had become unusable after a light fall to the ground. As a quick fix, they removed their sim, placed it into a Galaxy S3 and logged in to their Gmail account (Not sure if it was through the browser or the Gmail app). Low and behold, within a short period, all of the apps associated with their account were being downloaded to the S3. Not only they apps were downloaded, an OS update was also downloaded that was specific to S4, which gave the S3 the newer features that had been released with the S4. Also, the user was automatically logged in to their apps. One such example is viper. They immediately started receiving messages from their contacts.

An interesting thing to note is that when the S3 was initially set up (way before the S4 user had ever logged in with their Gmail account), the Backup My Data option had been deselected and there was no google account associated with the phone. However, when the user logged in with their Gmail account, all information was backed up to the phone. I had not checked, but I wonder if that action had re-enabled the Backup settings that were previously disable on the phone.

While I am also aware of Google’s data collecting abilities, it always amazes me about how intrusive they can be.

I always de-select any option that could potentially push information back to an entity. I may be losing the benefits of these options, but I feel privacy overrides simplicity and ease of use.

What are your thoughts?

Nicole Ibrahim

2 Comments

  1. Google has always been about pushing the envelope of privacy, under the ruse of end-user convenience, to collect and monetize your privacy. While Apple doesn’t appear to be so given over to the almighty dollar, they are better. I wouldn’t use an Android phone if you were giving them away.

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