The FCC has been formally regulating behavioural advertising since the 1990s. You’d think they’d be all over Google and Facebook, then, right? Actually, no. The FCC is now run by a former Obama fund-raiser, Tom Wheeler, and it can’t do enough for Silicon Valley, whether it’s collectivising songwriters rights or disaggregating TV.
What the FCC did this year, with little fanfare, was cripple telecoms companies and wireless networks from doing what Google and Facebook do. That’s a very odd decision. If behavioural advertising is so bad consumers need an opt-out, how come you can opt out of your ISP’s profiling, but not Google’s. How could that be?
Don’t count on “digital rights” groups to help you, dear citizen, when we discover that Google is funding them. Privacy lawsuits became cosy backroom carve-ups, with privacy NGOs greedy to pocket Google’s cash. Marc Rotenberg at EPIC is one of very few exceptions: the object to the conflict of interests raised by the cy pres settlements, that saw “digital rights” groups raise a privacy class action only to settle. Money laundering might be a better description.
Oddly enough, I had Google Maps ask me to take pictures of the restaurant I was in as a notification yesterday. That kind of freaked me out, as I wasn’t running maps at the time!
Users have reported battery life issues with the latest Android build, with many pointing the finger at Google Play – Google’s app store – and its persistent, almost obsessive need to check where you are.
Amid complaints that Google Play is always switching on GPS, it appears Google has made it impossible to prevent the app store from tracking your whereabouts unless you completely kill off location tracking for all applications.
You can try to deny Google Play access to your handheld’s location by opening the Settings app and digging through Apps -> Google Play Store -> Permissions, and flipping the switch for “location.” But you’ll be told you can’t just shut out Google Play services: you have to switch off location services for all apps if you want to block the store from knowing your whereabouts. It’s all or nothing, which isn’t particularly nice.
This is because Google Play services pass on your location to installed apps via an API. The store also sends your whereabouts to Google to process. Google doesn’t want you to turn this off.
It also encourages applications to become dependent on Google’s closed-source Play services, rather than use the interfaces in the open-source Android, thus ensuring that people continue to run Google Play on their devices.