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Your Location 'Extremely Valuable' To Google

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the rather-important-to-me-too dept.

Google 164

An anonymous reader writes "Google recently wrote off concerns about its mobile devices sending precise user location data back to its servers, but recently uncovered emails illustrate that user location is instrumental in its strategy. Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, wrote to Larry Page, founder and now CEO, explaining that location data from mobile phones was 'extremely valuable to Google,' especially given the privacy blow-up concerning its Street View cars at the time."

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Wait, can they get that? (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998788)

Considering I'm in China right now...

Re:Wait, can they get that? (2, Funny)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998822)

Course they can, they just pay some chinese kid to follow you instead of doing it digitally. Call it analogue tracking systems...

Re:Wait, can they get that? (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998924)

But how does the Chinese kid report back to google? Paper aeroplane "packets" over the border, or TCP/IP over Avian Carrier? :P

Re:Wait, can they get that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35998998)

The kid passes it to his cousin who runs a WoW Gold Farming account who passes it off to Google operatives in capital cities. It is encoded in the gold spam messages so no one is the wiser.

Re:Wait, can they get that? (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999030)

Oh right, I always wondered what those spammy posts with no links were for... now we know, it's Google's Analogue Tracking System (GATS).

Re:Wait, can they get that? (1)

Tamran (1424955) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999838)

The term you're looking for is "Sneaker Net"

Re:Wait, can they get that? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999166)

Considering I'm in China right now...
--
My Sig spits 40 cal lead...

Completely off topic, but the combo of your quote and sig ... uh, signature ... makes me ask what gun control is like in China. Is it traditional 3rd world where no one cares as long as you flash cash, or is it somewhere on the semi-civilized continuum of NYC to NH, or they just don't care, or perhaps some fourth philosophy?

Back on topic, I'd think for demographic research, GOOG would love to sell your apparent hobby interest to retailers and probably manufacturers. So mr gunsmith our GOOG report shows that 46 percent of your actual measured visitors have mentioned Sig in social media web 3.0 on the inter-tubes in comparison to only 32 percent mentioning Glock so use this info to assign space in your display cases or to justify your next social media astro turfing campaign. I think GOOG could make some cash selling that. Imagine how excited gun shows would be to promote themselves using the data.

Somewhat more negatively, based on your sig and your Sig, I could see a bar running your license thru one of those little license scanner gadgets, and getting from GOOG either a yellow LED meaning warning - frisk the heck out of this guy, or a red LED meaning tell this guy to go away.

Re:Wait, can they get that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999652)

If he's unaware that china has cell phones and the internet, I'm guessing he doesn't know anything about their gun control laws. They're prohibited, by the way, though there is a healthy black market.

Re:Wait, can they get that? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999976)

They're prohibited, by the way, though there is a healthy black market.

OK, we're narrowing in on it, is it 3rd world prohibited, like wave some cash and its all good, so everyone has a AK-47 even though no one officially has one.
Or is it 1st world prohibited like the UK where only some of the crooks are armed and rest of the population is disarmed (aka victim)?

If only bin Laden. . . (4, Funny)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998838)

. . . had been more of an early adopter. . .

Re:If only bin Laden. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35998954)

Then they still would have pretended he was still alive. You can always dispose off the body in the middle of the ocean when you need a political bonus and claim you "just" caught him.

Re:If only bin Laden. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35998990)

Not his fault the iPhone was initially PT&T only. Once he switched to Veristan and activated Location Services, we had him.

Re:If only bin Laden. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999018)

Its interesting that his mansion had no phone or internet access. He was probably wearing a tinfoil turban too.

location location location (1)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998862)

I'm at home on my computer.

slashdot you owe me like 20 billion dollars now btw, i know how much this stuff is worth cause i read about it on slashdot.

Re:location location location (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999336)

Sure thing. Just give us your bank account details and transfer $1000 to our bank account to cover initial expenses required to release the funds.

I'm on my computer in Nigeria.

It's time to get serious (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35998864)

It should be illegal to collect and retain location data of any kind on anyone for any reason short of a duly issued warrant. Maps,etc, can query Google and info returned, just no logs kept at all. Why not? The only people that would be against this are people that want to maintain control of some kind. Smartphones are just the thin edge of a wedge of the death of personal privacy.

Let's see, your smartphone is:

1. a location-tracking device showing where you are, have been, and may be going
2. a veritable microphone listening device
3. a record of who you know and communicate with

What more could they want? People say the data these devices generate and store won't be misused. Bah! They are misused everyday and everyone knows it. The fact this stuff has come to light will in no way alter, stop, or slow down the tracking of people. We need some serious privacy laws, even more strict that say, Germany, has. People have a right to not be tracked and databased at every turn. This is the reason I have basically stopped using Google products.

Don't forget "CELL" phones. (3, Insightful)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999094)

They are not named cell phones because they can be smuggeld easy into a prison cell, they are called that way because the phone can determine easily what cell it it in. Telephone carriers always had access to this information. You might not have been aware that that data was available and stored. (e.g. in poland you can see the streetname you are walking in because the cell are note named ONLY after the provider).

The whole problem is that companies should announce that they collect this information and what they are doing with this information. Announcing that this information is anonymously shared with partners in a 40 pages eula is too vague. maybe an opt-out should be available I am not sure about that.

Not using products fromx.com is not the solution. (x in apple, google, RIM )

Re:Don't forget "CELL" phones. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999170)

>>>>>The only people that would be against this are people that want to maintain control of some kind

AKA politicians

>>Not using products from x.com is not the solution.

It's a start. It's what drove Circuit Shitty into bankruptcy. And forced Sega out of the console business. Just imagine if we started boycotting Sony or Comcast or Google.

Re:It's time to get serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36000394)

It should be illegal to collect and retain location data of any kind on anyone for any reason short of a duly issued warrant. Maps,etc, can query Google and info returned, just no logs kept at all. Why not? The only people that would be against this are people that want to maintain control of some kind. Smartphones are just the thin edge of a wedge of the death of personal privacy.

Let's see, your smartphone is:

1. a location-tracking device showing where you are, have been, and may be going
2. a veritable microphone listening device
3. a record of who you know and communicate with

What more could they want? People say the data these devices generate and store won't be misused. Bah! They are misused everyday and everyone knows it. The fact this stuff has come to light will in no way alter, stop, or slow down the tracking of people. We need some serious privacy laws, even more strict that say, Germany, has. People have a right to not be tracked and databased at every turn. This is the reason I have basically stopped using Google products.

I have nothing to hide however, my car has GPS tracking factory installed, my phone tracks me and my car GPS device has a 3G chip that I have not activated on any plan, nor was i given the option of such, my computer is also constantly tracking me. Should I break out the tin foil hat, seems so many needs to know my exact whereabouts at any given second.

Seems to me that we should just start implanting devices on everything and everyone right from birth, likely much cheaper option.

Where's the email? (2)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998886)

TFA only quotes 4 words that are in the email, and completely fails to mention any other details.
Every piece of information about your customers/users is extremely valuable. But it depends on what you do with it; how you get it; and how you protect it.

Re:Where's the email? (5, Insightful)

joh (27088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999156)

Every piece of information about your customers/users is extremely valuable. But it depends on what you do with it; how you get it; and how you protect it.

I think there is a huge difference between having information about your customers as a group (or as sub-groups) and having information about identifiable customers. There's nothing wrong with Google (or Apple) knowing that 500 customers are at a certain point on a road and not moving since an hour. But there's everything wrong with being able to know who these customers are or being able to track every single one of them over days, weeks or months.

And the point is not what you do with this information or how you get it: The point should be to make sure by technical means that you CAN'T get such personal information to begin with. As soon as we have to trust companies to not abuse such information it's too late. Exactly this is the reason that Big Brother in 1984 was called Big Brother (and not Evil Bully): It's the seemingly benign, well-meaning and powerful entity you trust and get abused by.

Location data that is anonymous (or uses random IDs that frequently change) can't be abused easily. You can use this to count devices in a certain place or to deliver ads to the right devices but since you have no idea which phone the data comes from and who owns the phone there's a limit what you can do with it. It's enough information to offer useful services from it and not enough to abuse it.

Re:Where's the email? (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999344)

Location data that is anonymous (or uses random IDs that frequently change) can't be abused easily

Sure it can, any time you are in the real world.

GOOG report shows "The anonymous owner of this phone supports rights for X people, where X is a minority opinion" therefore evil majority member guy beats up the anonymous phone's owner. I only used majority / minority language to gain support, its just as evil when swapped around or there is no majority / minority issue.

There is also a semi-anonymous failure mode. "The anonymous owner of this phone, which happens to be located at the Lat/Lon coordinates of this interview room, often visits websites which are mostly popular amongst people of the political persuasion generally opposite to yours". Result -> "I'm sorry to inform you we found a candidate more closely suited to the position, who would be a better fit with the team."

Re:Where's the email? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000420)

location based offers and such are not bad - if you request them. that didn't work too well previously. and people are catching on that offers are just adverts with a different name, somebody has already tried to sell them socks for only the price of shipping

however, it's about pushing them to your face where they see the possibility, and that's why they need lightweight, like cellid, based solutions to that. and to build that they need users who are willing to run around with gps enabled for them whilst sending data to them. short term what was valuable to them is cellid - gps matching for lightweight non accurate and fast gps startup, and also just checking what they can. I doubt that they've got clear plans on what to do with the data. obviously it could and would be used for finding out in which areas you might get vendors interested in advertising through google. but they could just use population density maps for that.

why not use something like bluetooth, and small, very cheap bluetooth advertisers on location? well, fuck, nobody wants bluespam and it was tried already. and for non-spam messages there's already a mechanism in gsm to send alerts to everyone in a certain area(but you need a really good reason for the governing officials to give you permission). there's no way that they'll be able to sell android without an off button for location data and spam for longer than few months and everyone who runs out of battery even once is going to just turn it off. the funny thing is, it's like they think that nobody else thought of this shit before.

if they really want to make a difference, they should push for global data roaming contracts - the location based ads are practically useless when you're in home territory and got your routines set up. you know where you're going to get coffee and where the mcd is. go abroad and you could use that information, but just can't get it at reasonable price.

by the way, android-x86 is a real life saver for android development, run it in a virtualbox and kiss the sdk included shit goodbye.

and all the dolts: anonymised location data infringes on privacy just as well, unless you scramble the location too, at which point it's not much of data is it?

I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (2, Insightful)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998974)

Its no surprise that if you know where someone is you can deliver more targeted results. Is this really news? Besides, Google has a good track record of protecting consumer privacy and making it clear what they collect. Apple collected all their data without telling users and Facebook has a track record of both violating privacy as default policy and refusing to share it with others.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (0)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998980)

...and let me preempt the trolls. The street-view fiasco was soooo blown out of proportion. It makes perfect sense that if you are collecting wifi data that you just record what you hear and process it offline when the cars get back to the garage.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (3, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999230)

Meh, it only takes a couple of seconds to configure Kismet (which apparently was one of the used applications) to only log the networks information (E/BSSID, channel, encryption, geographic location from GPS, etc) without logging the actual packages. And it doesn't take more CPU than logging everything.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999294)

Yeah, true. :) I didn't say they were innocent, just that it was blown out of proportion.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999390)

Meh, it only takes a couple of seconds to configure Kismet (which apparently was one of the used applications) to only log the networks information (E/BSSID, channel, encryption, geographic location from GPS, etc) without logging the actual packages. And it doesn't take more CPU than logging everything.

They are broadcasting it, why shouldn't they listen? Never understood that whole issue. Now someone breaks into my house, cuts an ethernet cable, splices in a sniffer, then I'll be justifiably annoyed. But listening to a broadcast I'm intentionally transmitting out to the world as they drive by? Who cares.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999702)

Listening is one thing, recording is another, in my opinion. While the people who were broadcasting it should have used encryption, that doesn't necessarily excuse Google.

You're also broadcasting your Slashdot password through many ISPs' servers unencrypted, but that doesn't mean it should be legal for them to record it.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999920)

You're also broadcasting your Slashdot password through many ISPs' servers unencrypted

That has no technological meaning, unless your ISP is doing something beyond bizarre with a PC-server as a software routing platform and 10 megabit ethernet hubs, or maybe you mean a proxy server with two (or at least one) wifi interfaces instead of wired networks.

but that doesn't mean it should be legal for them to record it

With respect to service level analysis, line problem troubleshooting, billing by the byte or peak meg rate?. I think you mean disclosure to 3rd parties, well, thats complicated, even giving protocol analysis traces to vendors like Cisco in a trouble ticket is "questionable" although everyone does it if necessary to repair a service impacting bug.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999084)

Strange I had to google it and find non google sources to tell me what they collect on my android mobile. But hey double standards is one of the official slashdot standards (even iso carry on !

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999142)

you think they collect this data just to sit in some database? they sell it to third parties to sell you ads, metrics and other marketing purposes

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (2)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999270)

you think they collect this data just to sit in some database? they sell it to third parties to sell you ads, metrics and other marketing purposes

Really? Please point me to one piece of solid evidence to that effect. If you can I'll run and delete my Google accounts right now. They sell ads so sure, they probably target ads with some model made from aggregate location data from lots of users but I have never found anything to suggest that they sell, or would ever sell this data to third parties. There is just too much for them to lose. They built their brand on the respect of the tech industry. Why would they ever throw that away? It would be stupid.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000042)

"Really? Please point me to one piece of solid evidence to that effect. If you can I'll run and delete my Google accounts right now. They sell ads so sure, they probably target ads with some model made from aggregate location data from lots of users but I have never found anything to suggest that they sell, or would ever sell this data to third parties. "

Here's one version.

One of the firefox addons called Ghostery identifies all the trackers on a page, as it blocks them. So imagine your typical page, like slashdot. It contains Google Analytics and other companies, apparently "adhere", whoever that is. The fact that all those companies are running trackers on the same page (places like PC world have some twelve trackers!) means that they are selling the results back and forth.

Another direction - Nick Bilton in his book "I Live In The Future and This Is How It Works" (may be a title typo) says that a growing number of the affiliated tracker companies are also Google, and that they are indeed working very hard to sell the results "to give you targeted experiences". (He goes into targeted news as well as ads, sich as "that restaurant next to you has lobster tonight."

So there's your evidence. What would you like to do now?

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (0)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000126)

Profiting from my information and selling my information are different things. I don't believe Google has ever sold user data to anyone.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999334)

They also use it to locate you in Google Maps if your phone isn't GPS enabled. It could find me inside my house even when running on my Nokia E65.

Firefox [mozilla.com] also uses Google's service to provide your location to websites (IF you allow it) by scanning the local area for known APs.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999952)

And they know all the places where you know the WIFI login details, even if you carefully avoid calling that guy or having his number stored on your phone.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999362)

Yeah right. Google, a huge advertising company, will sell the data to a third party so that that third party can then sell you targeted ads. That makes sense.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999222)

Facebook has a track record of both violating privacy as default policy and refusing to share it with others.

And seemingly randomly changing policy. They're all kinda bad about this, I just think FB achieves the "worst in class".

Off the top of my head I can't remember GOOG ever changing policies... Maybe on something no one uses, so we never hear about it?

Apple pops up a new 50 page itunes agreement every week, but it never seems much different than last weeks agreement.

Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (4, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999374)

Apple is in the business of selling hardware and software. Theirs is a Business-to-Consumer model.

Google is in the business of selling you. Theirs is a Business-to-Business model, like the fisherman who puts a free worm on his hook, catches the fish, and sells it to market. Unfortunately for the fish, it never questioned why a free worm was just sort of dangling there in the water.

Google provides free software, e-books, search engines, etc., as its bait. And based upon your slavish fanboi gushing, you've fallen for it hook, line, and sinker...

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (2)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999464)

Google provides free software, e-books, search engines, etc., as its bait. And based upon your slavish fanboi gushing, you've fallen for it hook, line, and sinker...

I'm not trying to be a "fanboi" and I'm still confused. You've listed what I gain but what exactly have I lost? My privacy? Don't I already lose that to Facebook and Apple? My point still stands.

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999896)

You may or may not own an Apple device, your choice.
As for Google, I suspect it's too late and they already own you.
  http://donttrack.us/

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (5, Insightful)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000048)

If your claim is only that "you lose nothing extra" since Apple and Facebook already sells your info, then you *may* have a point.

But all is lost when you say Google handles it with a "good track record". What makes you think that? Sure, with Facebook you're literally giving away your private information, but Google works very hard to build a profile of you, without you noticing, and has an established business in selling these information to advertisers.

I'm not saying Apple and Facebook are saints when it comes to these matters, but you're truly tending towards fanboy-dom when you think that Google, which almost solely relies on such things to survive, is any better than the other two.

I mean, I hope you're not those who reads this news and think "meh, what's the big deal, Apple does it too" -- while being outraged at the evil Apple empire a week ago when the news about iPhone location tracking surfaced.

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (1)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000114)

Its not blind complacency I have. I really wish there were a way to share anonymised location data, anonymised email addresses and anonymised contact lists and with ALL these guys. I want the benefits but not the privacy implications as much as the next guy. I just happen to believe that Google still has its hippy "for the user" mentality at heart whereas Apple and Facebook are out to get what they can. Maybe I'm delusional? *shrug*

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36000284)

Maybe I'm delusional?

*dingdingding* WINNER!

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36000502)

Except Google doesn't sell the information to advertisers, advertisers buy ads targeted towards people in a given area and Google serves ads to people in that area.

I can safely say that you've lost nothing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36000052)

... because you are a milche cow who is happy eating the free grass, chewing the cud and being milked twice a day. You don't stop to wonder what is beyond the barbed wire of your life and cannot imagine that things could be anything other than what they are. You accept completely the farmer's roll bringing you in to the milking shed and his warm hands on your udder as you are distracted by what's in the trough in front of you. After all, all the other milche cows accept it don't they.

You go on chewing the cud. You're happy enough.

Re:Umm, You're Kidding... Right...? (1)

Rossman (593924) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999650)

You're crazy if you think Apple isn't in BOTH the Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business models. Their Business-to-Consumer model is what makes their Business-to-Business model worth something.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999488)

...making it clear what they collect.

And you believe them, why exactly? Because they say so?

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999592)

And you believe them, why exactly? Because they say so?

I guess thats part of it but. But also because they haven't given me a good reason not to believe them unlike everyone else. Its a lesser of N evils thing in my mind and looking ANY tech company, I rate Google up there as the most trustworthy. Of course things could change but right now we have:

  • Apple records data without telling users they are doing it, what its for or what they collect. Change their policies every second week and they're too long for people to actually read them.
  • Facebook has a history of setting privacy too low by default and wants to make a walled garden.
  • Microsoft used to be evil towards other businesses but have a fairly good privacy track record AFAICR. They are slowly changing their business ways largely thanks to competitive pressure from from Google and Linux.
  • Sony sues people who try to unlock the machines they own, install root kits on music CDs and loses millions of private account details due to poor system design.
  • Google recorded unencrypted wifi traffic from streetview cars (apparently by accident and with no believable business case otherwise, its probably the truth).

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (3, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999668)

They just haven't gotten caught.. I would just say they know what they are doing. The plain fact is that you will never know, unless there's an 'accident'.. Please remember, information gathering is Google's primary function, so I would expect them to be more careful in their work. Facebook boy is a punk.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1, Funny)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999696)

Tin foil hats all round!

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999834)

You work for Google?

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999946)

I work for myself but I do use Google Apps for Gmail. Just don't understand all the Google-bashing of late. People seem to forget all the services they get for free are paid for by ads which are only valuable because they are somehow targeted, be that by search terms, location, or whatnot... Google Search, Youtube, Android, Chrome, Picasa, Gmail, ... Consider me confused...

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000086)

I'm not bashing anybody. I'm merely trying to explain the behavioral patterns of these types of people, whether it's Google, Apple, or MS.. or Goldman Sachs, AIG, Wells Fargo, etc etc etc. You don't get this big without playing games. They have no reason to be truthful when it's so easy to get away with whatever they want, and like the banks, they will become too big to punish without 'wrecking' the economy.

What word or phrase describes the inverse of 'tin foil hat'? Because that's the part you are playing.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999924)

Remember, it was Google that told people about the StreetView data problems in the first place.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000004)

Yeah, sure, throw the occasional bone to throw you off the trail.. SOP

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000098)

Sure, you could live your life in a state of panic and worry, thinking that every confession is hiding something worse... Or you could be a happy person who believes what he sees until proven otherwise.

You show me some proof that Google has taken malicious or deleterious actions against their users, and that said actions were worse than those done by Facebook, Apple, or Sony, and we'll talk.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000190)

With hundreds of years of precedence, I cannot for the life of me understand what makes Google so uniquely innocent in a world of corporate malfeasance.. The only anomaly is getting caught..

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000288)

"Everybody else does it, therefore they must do it" is not a valid argument.

Besides, the idea that every company ever created acted against its customer's best interests is downright fallacious.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000338)

You cannot get this big without bending the rules beneath the minimum radius. It's simply part of the design. No grand conspiracies, just nature at work., Read up on the Stanford Prison Experiment.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (1)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000554)

Really? What, exactly, makes it impossible to create a large company without violating the law?

My argument is that, while Google isn't perfectly ethical, they are by and large more ethical than its competitors.

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (0)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999624)

Are you f'in kidding me? Google has a good track record? Aside from the nightmare wifi trolling and data collection scandal that rocked the world and has them under investigation in multiple countries? Is that the good track record you're talking about?

Put down the kool-aid pal!

Re:I'd rather Google than Apple or Facebook (0)

dragonhunter21 (1815102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999978)

Google's was accidental, and they reported it themselves. Sony got hacked and potentially exposed 10 million credit card numbers. Apple was collecting location data this whole time without informing the consumer. So yeah, I trust Google.

That isn't the problem (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#35998978)

Of *course* your location is important to them. Google is an advertising company; geographically targeted adverising is in high demand.

The issue people have is when Google (or anyone else) collects this data without any consent, and without adequate warning that it is being collected.

Google is also keeping all of the money for itself, and is not passing any of it on to the users who supplied the data. If your smartphone paid you cash for every day you allow them to track your data, people would not be objecting so loudly.

Re:That isn't the problem (2)

rips123 (654488) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999088)

Google is also keeping all of the money for itself, and is not passing any of it on to the users who supplied the data. If your smartphone paid you cash for every day you allow them to track your data, people would not be objecting so loudly.

Also, that smart phone is likely loaded with crapware that is difficult or impossible to uninstall. The manufacturer/carrier is making money from that and you can bet your bottom dollar that the carriers are tracking you for network-planning and what-not but you'll never be able to opt-out of that. The difference with all this stuff comes down to the way its implemented. *IF* its done in a way to secure your privacy (e.g. by purposely randomising your location within a certain distance and not storing any personally identifiable information) then it adds value to YOU. It can give you better results in searches and a better user experience. The problem is when companies start collecting it to their advantage without making it available to others. Apple seems to have secretive plans for their iPhone location data and Facebook have a history of not sharing. Out of the three, I'm glad my data is with Google. At least they tell me what they record and give me the option to delete it or opt out.

Re:That isn't the problem (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999100)

Google is also keeping all of the money for itself, and is not passing any of it on to the users who supplied the data.

Google pays with access to its services.

I think this companies should be legally required to provide warnings about such tracking before letting you use their services (and not hidden in the fourteenth page of its EULA), but to claim that they provide nothing in return is simply not true.

Re:That isn't the problem (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999422)

Google is also keeping all of the money for itself, and is not passing any of it on to the users who supplied the data. If your smartphone paid you cash for every day you allow them to track your data, people would not be objecting so loudly.

Well, Google is, but indirectly, and its questionable exactly how much you benefit. Google allows phone manufacturers and networks to share some of the profits they get from people using their Android-based phones. This means that your service is potentially cheaper.

Re:That isn't the problem (1)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999716)

Well let's be fair, you have been compensated for using your personal info, you received access to services from Google as compensation. I have no love (or hate) for Google, but that transaction was fair, personal info for free services.

Re:That isn't the problem (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000108)

Google is also keeping all of the money for itself, and is not passing any of it on to the users who supplied the data. If your smartphone paid you cash for every day you allow them to track your data, people would not be objecting so loudly.

Duh. You get this "free" and "open" (whatever it means these days) Android platform. Which is why people seem to complain less about Google doing this than Apple with iPhone/iOS, because those things are "expensive".

Re:That isn't the problem (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000268)

I agree. The issue that Google has it that is always has collected information on users without explicit consent, beyond the DCMA, and so it is used to doing so. The difference is that prior to this the information collected was generic usage information. Abig difference was that Google provided a free service, search, mail, docs, in exchange for such information. In this way it provides a good value.

So Google is used to collecting data, and users are used to give it. Apple users are not so used to privacy violations because Apple users pay for products, so are not accustomed to trading information for product. This, I believe, is why there is such a backlash against Apple but Google is left relatively unscathed. User simply expect Google to behave badly.

The problem is that Android users are not getting a product for free, or at least they don't perceive they are getting a product for free. After all Android is open sourced, and provided essentially free to the OEM, but users don't separate the software stack from the phone anymore than they separate the OS from the PC. So in the same way we might say Linux is free the user stills buys a MS Windows machine since the total cost is often less than a *nix machine.

I was surprised with the nexus because I really though that Google might share and create an inexpensive smart phone supported with ad revenue and usage data. Then the first indication that Google was going to cave into the cell phone carriers, instead of as Apple providing phones that meet the needs of the end user, when it abandoned the nexus 1.

Re:That isn't the problem (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000298)

Of *course* your location is important to them. Google is an advertising company; geographically targeted adverising is in high demand.

And that's fine with me. But that's not the issue with data collection. Once its collected, it can be saved. Or worse yet, the gov't will step in and mandate that it be saved for law enforcement purposes. But once piles of data are sitting on a server someplace, some unauthorized person will access it.

One day, someone will get their hands on this Google data and filter out all the devices that travel to a certain location in Langley, VA. And sell it to the Chinese. And then who will be crying?

manually & spinally challenged race to aquatic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35998992)

much easier than lemmings, one can barely begin to get any sense that we're alive to begin with, except that we keep buying stuff (even total bullshit), & getting sicker, scareder, wetter etc... fortunately, there's lots more room in southern hillary, once our devolution is deemed complete, by our rulers..

Do no evil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999036)

Guess we misunderstood. It's "don't get caught doing evil..."

Dear Google (2)

jtseng (4054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999086)

I didn't realize my location was so valuable. So where's MY share of the money?!

Re:Dear Google (3)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999236)

Instead of giving you money, Google gives you free software:
- search engine
- email
- online book reader
- google docs
- et cetera

Re:Dear Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999960)

Instead of reading the hyperbolic summary, try TFA instead. What the emails said was their wifi data collection was important to improve the accuracy of their data location services. If you don't want Google knowing where you are turn off location services on your phone. Now of course knowing where you are helps them target location based advertising at you, but if you don't want that don't use their services that require your location.

Re:Dear Google (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000444)

In your pocket. If you can keep it, you get to keep it.

Obvious article of the day (0)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999102)

Well...duh!

Wanted - android app to report fake location info (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999128)

Is there an android app where I can make my phone report a location of my choosing, rather than where I really am?

Re:Wanted - android app to report fake location in (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999522)

There's an android app that lets you report no location at all. It's called 'Your Phone's Settings Menu'.

Well, if Google's doing it... (4, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999220)

... it must be o.k. After all, if you can't trust a company with a motto like "Don't be evil", who could you trust. It did occur to me though, that if you wanted to be evil, "Don't be evil" would probably be a pretty good motto.

Re:Well, if Google's doing it... (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999408)

It would be a terrible motto if you wanted to be evil... previous Google stories here prove that. It gives people (like you) something to bring up every time there's a story about them that and gives that person a way to push their viewpoint.

If you truly wanted to be evil, you'd want a low profile, no public comments, as little interaction as possible. You'd dish out information in small chunks. Preferably those that you've indexed in your ultimate index of the Internet so that the users don't suspect you.

Re:Well, if Google's doing it... (1)

Rabenblut (580307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999926)

Probably, but the Google location stuff is opt-in anyway. Just don't turn it on on your Android phone.

You do have an android phone, right?

Re:Well, if Google's doing it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36000278)

You got that motto wrong - it's "Don't! Be Evil!"

Andy Rubin is a hypocrite (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999386)

Wasn't Android going to be open? Why are you keeping HoneyComb's source code locked behind the Google doors? Fucking hypocrite!

Re:Andy Rubin is a hypocrite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999756)

It will be released.

The problem is that it's very bound to tablets. It would be horrible with that android on phones. If released before phone-ready, silly manufacturers would still put it on phones.

Which would suck, and degrade the brand.

no John, you are the Googles (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999430)

Your location 'extremely valuable' to Google

That's right, asset tracking is important.

figure out who are you afraid of before panicking? (2)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999492)

FBI? Police? Divorce lawyer? Boss? Neighbor? Retailers? Stranger who finds your phone?

You personally may be reason to worry. And any escalation of private data collection needs to be considered carefully - it is just a step, and there will be future steps based on acceptance of this one. Being concerned is probably appropriate, but panicking is probably an overreaction.

But for most of your "enemies" this is not something to worry about. Your wife, boss, and neighbor don't have access to this data unless you end up in court and you probably did something else to tip them off first and in the past they could have hired someone to follow you.

FBI & police have been tracking people pretty well for a long time with credit card purchases, phone taps, security cameras, cell phone location, door-to-door interviews, APBs, etc. If you're running from them, you probably avoid these. But if they want to find out where you were all day last Tuesday when you weren't trying to avoid them, they can probably get as close as google's data.

Stores have been tracking you with credit cards, loyalty cards, etc. They probably don't care what you did all day.

A hacker breaking into google's data may be able to find patterns to know when someone is not at home or is on a deserted street. But it's probably a lot more effort and more dangerous to use that than search for credit cards in the data. They'd want to do a stakeout anyhow to verify so why not pick a target first rather than using location data to pick a random target.

Re:figure out who are you afraid of before panicki (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000200)

But for most of your "enemies" this is not something to worry about. Your wife, boss, and neighbor don't have access to this data unless you end up in court and you probably did something else to tip them off first and in the past they could have hired someone to follow you.

Think so? Its very easy to get information out of the police or FBI with the right connections and a little social engineering. While that information isn't of any use as evidence, I can think of a few cases where I don't want third parties knowing where I'm going or who I'm talking to.

How much will they pay me for it? (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999508)

If it's so valuable to them, how much will they pay me for it?

Re:How much will they pay me for it? (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999574)

They give you a pile of services like Gmail, Google Calendar, Picasa, Google Apps, Google Reader, Google docs, etc. It ain't free, it's a trade.

Wait.... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35999720)

What does Google have to do with the Apple fiasco?

Let them pay then. (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35999748)

If it's so valuable, how about they start a service where they pay for it directly. You sign up, and you get x dollars every day you let them track your location data.

Re:Let them pay then. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000152)

Depends - would you like to start paying for searching and mapping services? How likely are you to make a profit if you start getting charged $100/yr for map access (retail cost for maps through garmin) plus $0.01/MB of data transfer? What about regular search? Voice searches at $1/each like the phone company information line?

Be careful what you wish for...

Re:Let them pay then. (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000334)

I bet they'd be happy to, as long as you're also willing to pay for Gmail, Google's search engine, and all the other free stuff they give you today.

immaterial (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000390)

Really.

There are 3 locations services available on my Android Fascinate.

Each one must be *explicitly* enabled. Each one gives you it's own separate, readable, intelligible, and concise warning regarding the usage of the location data.

One is Google, one is Verizon, and one is Stand-alone.

If you disable both Google's *and* VZW's...you can still use your location-based apps.

There is nothing to see here.. Move along...

Fixed TFA for you (1)

somejeff (825047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000560)

The problem, however, is not if, but when the data fall into the wrong hands, or not if, but when the data is compromised. The data is precise enough that Kamkar says Google not can, but will correlate timing and frequency of phone usage to pinpoint an Android owner's home address. "When your phone is at the same location during night hours, they know where you live," says Kamkar. "When your phone location is on the move, they will guess that you're in a car and even calculate how fast your car is moving."

*Your* Location? (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 3 years ago | (#36000562)

Bad article, worse summary. Google isn't, like, quantizing your habits or anything. Or, maybe they do, but at the very least that isn't what the emails say.

"I cannot stress enough how important Google's wifi location database is to our Android and mobile product strategy," Google location manager Steve Lee told founder Page in the memo. "We absolutely do care about this because we need wifi data collection in order to maintain and improve our wifi location service."

It's not a database of your location, it's a crowd-sourced database of positioning information used to help users determine their location. When you encounter a previously unrecorded wifi network or somesuch and you're using this feature (it has a disclaimer about this), you anonymously add it to Google's database so other users using the feature can triangulate their position that much faster. There's a concern in the article that someone could hijack this process on Google's end and record personal information, but as far as we know from these emails and what they've said publicly, this information isn't being kept, in fact there's an encryption scheme to protect it. It's different from the Apple issue where the information was a) unencrypted b) identifiable (because it's on your phone) c) timestamped (and therefore more useful than "here's everywhere I've been in my life!") There's certainly the issue of privacy for the wifi network owners, but my point is the summary's misrepresenting the story here.

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