Ok so Apple has admitted, at least in part to data collection, but if you want to now how to collect data then a new Wall Street Journal investigation has shown how Google collects data and they mock Apples messily attempts.

To be clear, Apple admitted, months ago, to collecting personal data and they spell out in detail what they collect and why. Here’s their own letter talking about it. The new news is that there’s a locally stored packet of information that is unencrypted and can be accessed.

What about Google though? The WSJ reports:

In the case of Google, according to new research by security analyst Samy Kamkar, an HTC Android phone collected its location every few seconds and transmitted the data to Google at least several times an hour. It also transmitted the name, location and signal strength of any nearby Wi-Fi networks, as well as a unique phone identifier.

They continue

Google previously has said that the Wi-Fi data it collects is anonymous and that it deletes the start and end points of every trip that it uses in its traffic maps. However, the data, provided to the Journal exclusively by Mr. Kamkar, contained a unique identifier tied to an individual’s phone.

And I have huge news for all of you concerned about tracking of your phones – your carrier knows where your phone is all the time. Freaking shocking stuff.

Yeah, I think parts of this overall story are pretty overblown. We all rely on location services and ads are better (for both consumers and corporations) when they are relevant and if that data helps my phone stay online, then even better. Of course, I don’t want my info shared with the world and I want to control what information about me is sold, but the general concept of tracking a specific phone by ID…not sure I’m ready to go nuts yet.

Again, so long as there are safeguards to keep the users name out of the equation I’m ok with it. Of course, the next step is to go onto Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter to let the world know where our location is at all times, but that’s a different story…


  1. The issue is that data on your phone and computer are easily accessible to anyone that knows you, which automatically personalizes the information. e.g if some-one that knows you like your partner pulls the data from your phone and then accuses you of visiting your old girlfriend/boyfriend that can be pretty damning.

    Would you really want some-one who has access to your phone e.g. customs to also have access to your travel history for the last year?

  2. @Surur: I get that but if you’re overly concerned that someone with access toy our phone or PC is going to do that you probably need to password protect your devices;) I also assume that Apple will rollout an update shortly that encrypt this file but I think the underlying issue remains that a third party has your info and they are not highly regulated/restricted in what they can do with it. I think that’s that bigger issue – for some limitations on what can be done with personal data.
    i don’t know but in the end if you think/fear that people in your life will want to gain access to this data (which they need to be local to access) then you really need to rethink the way you live your life (and I mean ‘you’ generically here – not personally). I presume if anyone just looks at the cookies on my computer and then go to websites on my computer (most of which ‘remember me’ and automatically log me on including my email, then they already have access to more than they could ever ask for and there’s no outrage about our internet history being easily accessed.

  3. @DavidK: I think every time some-one is tempted to say “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” it should be clear how serious the issue in fact is.

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