Over the years, tech giants including the likes of Apple and Google have always siphoned user data without their consent. Although over certain regulations, they started focusing on user privacy, for their products or services.
In the spotlight, that is certainly not the case anymore. According to a recently published research paper, Google is collecting users’ data via their Phone and Messages apps. As much as it puts users’ privacy at risk, it also violates the EU’s General Data Protection and Regulation Law.
Google Apps to Violate Users’ Privacy
It is imperative to understand that, both Google’s Phone and Messages app are one of the most widely used Android apps. Not to mention, they already come pre-installed with every Android device.
Professor Douglas Leith in computer science from Trinity College conducted the research paper named, “What Data Do the Google Dialer and Messages Apps on Android Send to Google?”. The research unveils how Google collects user data without their permission.
Predominantly, these apps are responsible for collecting user communication-related data. These include the SHA256 hash and timestamp of messages, call logs of every incoming and outgoing call, user’s contact details and more.
After collecting the data, it goes straight to Google Play’s Clearcut logger service, and the Firebase Analytics service. Later on, it goes straight to Google’s remote server. Furthermore, Leigh adds that Google can reverse the hash for short messages to reveal the exact one.
Digging Deeper into the Report
The report further suggests that both Google Dialer and Messages apps don’t comply with mentioning privacy policies in terms of privacy. Not to mention, this is a practice Google implemented themselves, mandating all third-party applications to abide by.
In fact, these findings were informed to Google since last year. Furthermore, Leith actually suggested nine such critical changes. Although Google has implemented six of them by now.
As expected, Google also provided supporting clarifications for collecting data without users’ permission. The message hash was to detect sequencing bugs, while call lags were to improve automatic detections of OTPs.
The Bottom Line
This is not the first time, Google or any other Tech Giant has been accused of collecting user data without consent. Starting from making the most out of their voice assistant, to running curated ads, they have breached user privacy from time to time. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.