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September 19, 2018

PRIVACY: 10 years later, Google still has the creepy ability to remotely control a phone.

Ten years is a long time. Nearly long enough to forget that Google — and for that matter, Apple — have the ability to control some parts of your phone over the internet. And maybe quietly change things without your permission.

But Google made a very public mistake last week, and it’s raising the specter of doubt once again.

Last week, Android users began reporting that their phones’ Battery Saver feature had mysteriously turned on, all by itself, regardless of whether their batteries needed saving or not. Fully-charged devices started throttling themselves, halting background updates, seemingly because of a bug in the Android P update, as Android Police reported.

Only it wasn’t a bug. According to one of the company’s official Reddit accounts, Google itself was responsible. The company was conducting “an internal experiment to test battery saving features that was mistakenly rolled out to more users than intended,” according to the statement.

Is there anything Google does that isn’t creepy?