Tag Archives: android

Privacy

17 Jan

Google is a massive tech company that paved the road of web search. With adding tools like Google maps and earth, Google drive, gmail and developer tools, the little search engine became a large well-rounded hub, where people can access what they want, when they want, where they want. Google is able to access all the information a user inputs into it’s services, even wifi information used on phones run by android/Google. There has been much controversy over Google and its power when it comes to the tech giants ability to gain and access sensitive information.

Google has recently been under a lot of bad media due to rival companies like Microsoft. Google is a leader in app sales, and its because google hands over all the sensitive information mined and in putted by the Google users, according to Microsoft. The company is not transparent in what it’s doing with the user information, and users do not have an option to opt out. Not only is google accused of this in North America, but allegations overseas are being made against google as well. According to the fairsearch coalition, Google is using its android platform to dominate and monopolize the market, as well as to control consumer data. In 2013, Google had to pay $7 million to settle charges against the company for improperly collecting data from user’s wifi and the Google streetview application. The tech company also had to pay more to settle allegations that they had placed unauthorized cookies in the browsers of unknowing users. Although, Google didn’t admit to doing it during the case. While Google is giving out it’s users personal information, they are left to wonder, what exactly are other companies receiving about them. Google automatically stores our credit and debit card numbers, what we purchase, where we purchase it and how often it occurs, especially in the android app store. This is perfect information for a firm to better launch aggressive sales campaigns and ads targeting the users. With all the brainpower at google, what could happen with all of the personal and sensitive information such as age, gender, credit card number etc if someone decides to hack and steal the information saved, whether its from inside the company or not.

Google’s privacy policy says it collects any personal information the user gives including telephone numbers, credit card numbers, email address etc, what websites the user visits, device and login information, location information, and storage and cookie identifiers. This is fine since it’s all secure, right? On the privacy policy, there is mention of transparency and how the user may control what google can know about you. Only it mentions nothing of what they do with the information after they have it. Google states that they will not share user informations with companies unless they have our consent or believe the company will use the information properly. (in other words who has the biggest wallet?) Google encrypts a lot (not all) of the user information added to its services, offers a two step verification when logging in, as well as a safe browsing feature in Google chrome. Great, now users can safely browse the web, but google will still be seeing a lot of information in putted, and what happens with that? That’s where transparency is lost.

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is a Canadian act that governs how organizations collect and use the personal information they receive in commercial business. This law passed in April 2000 to promote trust in e commerce. Some of the key features of this act for the individual include: know why an organization collects, uses or discloses their personal information; expect an organization to collect, use or disclose their personal information reasonably and appropriately, and not use the information for any purpose other than that to which they have consented; know who in the organization is responsible for protecting their personal information;expect an organization to protect their personal information by taking appropriate security measures.

For the company, features of this act include: obtain consent when they collect, use or disclose their personal information; supply an individual with a product or a service even if they refuse consent for the collection, use or disclosure of your personal information unless that information is essential to the transaction; collect information by fair and lawful means.

While PIPEDA has good intentions, it is not fully protecting the average Canadian. This is because the act follows a ombudsman model which means complaints are taken by the privacy commissioner of Canada, where they will follow up and write a report. But it is not binding on any of the parties, so the company can take it as a recommendation and not something they actually need to do. Any company can say they’re only doing legitimate things with the users data, but behind closed doors might not be. In this society, if a Google user, or any internet user for that matter wish to have internet privacy, they should consider selling their computer; because no matter how hard a person tries, information will always be sent somewhere, whether its a phone number, credit card number or what website you visit the most.