Once again, Google was collecting personal information from users without their consent, and it took a study report to persuade them to stop.
Have you ever considered how much data technology companies have on you? Is the information you provide truly private?
Professor Douglas Leith of Trinity College in London presented a study that showed how much data Google’s Android Phone and Messages apps can collect from users.
Google was found to be secretly collecting phone logs and text messages from its users. According to the study, customers were informed that Google Play Services would collect data related to phone updates or data synchronisation between devices.
According to the report, Google’s data collection went beyond the boundaries of Google’s privacy policies. The messaging app, for example, keeps both the content and the timestamps of your communications. The data is then hashed to keep it anonymous before being sent in part to Google’s servers.
Incoming and outgoing calls, as well as the time and duration of each call, are all tracked by the phone app. These were also tagged with your unique Android phone ID, meaning that you could potentially track someone by matching the ID with timestamps and call data.
Google collects phone data for spam protection and caller ID, according to the company. Although the company claimed that it only collected records for numbers that were not in your contact list, this does not explain why consumers were not offered an opt-out option.
Following the release of the study, Google announced changes to the way it collects data from these apps. By rounding timestamps to the nearest hour, it claimed to have anonymised call log data. The phone app will start doing this right away, according to Google.
Furthermore, the Google Messages app will no longer collect SIM Card ID, inbound message sender data, or hashed message contents. Starting with Google Phone version 75 and Google Messages version 10.9, all of these changes have been rolled out.