April 22, 2013 Jaclyn Bickerton
Interesting article on MediaPost by Wendy Davis called “Microsoft: How Can You Trust Google For Anything?” The article talks about privacy concerns with Google’s app store. About two weeks ago Microsoft uncovered the latest portion of its Scroogled campaign, presenting Google as a threat to privacy. The new videos focus on Google’s app store policy. Google has made the decision to share app purchasers’ data with developers. This means that whenever you buy an Android app from the Google app store, the app makers get your full name, email address, and neighbourhood where you live. Every time you purchase an app this occurs without any real warning.
This comes almost two months after Dan Nolan, Australian developer reported that Google routinely shares app buyers’ personal information with developers. Nolan see’s Google’s actions as a “massive” privacy breach.
Google says that it intentionally designed its app platform to share this information because the platform merely facilitates transactions between app buyers and developers, and other platforms themselves sell the app to consumers. This method that Google is using to inform users about its practice is considered deceitful by many. Microsoft isn’t the only one to call Google out. Consumer Watchdog, a frequent Google critic has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s privacy concerns.
On the other hand, Microsoft has also been accused of violating smart phone users’ privacy. Microsoft is facing a lawsuit alleging that it collects information about the location of Windows Phone 7 users when the camera is activated, even when users have said they do not want to be tracked. The lawsuit is currently pending in court.
For those that have an Iphone, Apple’s App Store works differently. Apple does not pass along personal information, except with publications available through its Newsstand store, and only if customers agree to it.
I find it a little bit ironic that Microsoft is calling Google out over privacy concerns when Microsoft itself is facing a lawsuit over similar concerns. Also surprising is the illusion that consumers have any say in whether their information stays private or is shared. If you’ve ever used a social network you should know that you have close to no privacy. Why would this be any different with mobile phones?
Time and time again we see that privacy is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Consider this: Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other social media platforms that we utilize today are free services. All of these services are funded by advertising, and the advertisers need to get some value for the huge costs of providing these free services. Make sure you are fully aware that if you want to keep up in this digitally connected world, the price is your privacy.
Jaclyn Bickerton, Social Media, Raven5 Ltd, Oakville and Toronto, Ontario, April 2013