Google’s passive collection of personal data from Android and iOS has been monitored and measured in a significant academic study.
The report confirms that Google is no respecter of the Chrome browser’s “incognito mode” aka “porn mode”, collecting Chrome data to add to your personal profile, as we pointed out earlier this year.
It also reveals how phone users are being tracked without realising it. How so? It’s here that the B2B parts of Google’s vast data collection network – its publisher and advertiser products – kick into life as soon the user engages with a phone. These parts of Google receive personal data from an Android even when the phone is static and not being used.
The activity has come to light thanks to research (PDF) by computer science professor Douglas Schmidt of Vanderbilt University, conducted for the nonprofit trade association Digital Content Next. It’s already been described by one privacy activist as “the most comprehensive report on Google’s data collection practices so far”.
Overall, the study discovered that Apple retrieves much less data than Google.
“The total number of calls to Apple servers from an iOS device was much lower, just 19 per cent the number of calls to Google servers from an Android device.
Moreover, there are no ad-related calls to Apple servers, which may stem from the fact that Apple’s business model is not as dependent on advertising as Google’s. Although Apple does obtain some user location data from iOS devices, the volume of data collected is much (16x) lower than what Google collects from Android,” the study noted.
The amount of location data slurped is scary – and it continues to slurp location in many different ways, even if wifi is turned off. It’s Big Brother in your pocket, with no opt out.