They’re watching you. And they’re telling their mother ships where you are.
In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.
Google declined to comment on the findings. …
Apple, meanwhile, says it “intermittently” collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours, according to a letter the company sent to U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) last year. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The Google and Apple developments follow the Journal’s findings last year that some of the most popular smartphone apps use location data and other personal information even more aggressively than this—in some cases sharing it with third-party companies without the user’s consent or knowledge.
Some of the data is used for benign, or even useful, purposes like building accurate real-time traffic reporting. But collecting this data without our consent is wrong. For every positive use, there are probably 100 ways nefarious actors within and without these corporations can misuse this information.
Congress is already asking Apple questions about its location data gathering; expect questions to get directed Google’s way as well.
And one more thought on all this. While we all rightly get bothered at every government intrusion into our personal space, the real threat right now seems to be coming at us from these data corporations that are so tightly aligned with the government. Between Apple, facebook and Google, it’s fair to say that for many of us, our entire lives are open books — and we’re choosing to open them to these faceless corporations.
(Evil Google logo from TOONrefugee)