Researchers find Google harvests more data from Android – and Apple iOS – users than most people think

“A new study from Vanderbilt University gives a look at the just how much data Google is harvesting from its users,” Annie Palmer reports for The Daily Mail. “Researchers examined how the search giant collects information from Android mobile devices, Chrome browsers, YouTube and Photos, among other Google products. But the most surprising revelation gleaned from the study is likely to be that Google continues to collect data even when users are browsing in incognito mode.”

“Google collects data in ‘active’ ways, such as when users sign into an application, as well as ‘passive’ ways that users are less likely to be aware of,” Palmer reports. “The extent and magnitude of Google’s passive data collection has largely been overlooked by past studies on this topic,’ according to the study, which was published Tuesday. Most people assume that their browsing history is hidden from Google when they use incognito mode. However, the study explains that Google can still link the data from incognito browsers to a specific user. ”

“What’s more, even if you avoid using Google services on an iOS device, the firm can still collect data on users,” Palmer reports. “Visits to non-Google webpages still registered a ‘surprisingly high’ number of communications with Google servers. ‘The number of times such Google services are called from an iOS device is similar to an Android device,’ the study noted. ‘In this experiment, the total magnitude of data communicated to Google servers from an iOS device is found to be approximately half of that from the Android device.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Someday, hopefully sooner than later, people will look back at the days of the Google/Facebook scourge and shake their heads over what was allowed to happen.

This ‘don’t be evil’ mantra: It’s bullshit.Steve Jobs, 2010

Google hit with lawsuit accusing them of tracking phone users regardless of privacy settings – August 20, 2018
Google tracks users movements even when explicitly told not to – Associated Press – August 13, 2018
New Android malware records ambient audio, fires off premium-rate texts, and harvests files, photos, contacts, and more – March 2, 2018
How Google is secretly recording Android settlers, monitoring millions of conversations every day and storing the creepy audio files – August 22, 2017
Android apps secretly tracking users by listening to inaudible sound hidden in ads – May 8, 2017
Edward Snowden: No matter what, do not use Google’s new Allo messenger app – September 23, 2016
Apple’s iOS 11 will deliver even more privacy to users – June 8, 2017
Google to pay $5.5 million for sneaking around Apple’s privacy settings to collect user data – August 31, 2016
Apple takes a swing at privacy-tampling, personal data-guzzling rivals like Google – September 29, 2015
Apple reinvents the privacy policy – September 29, 2015
Apple: Hey Siri and Live Photos data stays only on your device to ensure privacy – September 12, 2015
Apple issues iPhone manifesto; blasts Android’s lack of updates, lack of privacy, rampant malware – August 10, 2015
Edward Snowden supports Apple’s stance on customer privacy – June 17, 2015
Mossberg: Apple’s latest product is privacy – June 12, 2015
Apple looks to be building an alternative to the Google-branded, hand-over-your-privacy ‘Internet Experience’ – June 11, 2015
Understanding Apple and privacy – June 8, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple slams Google in Safari 7.1 release notes: ‘Adds DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track users’ – September 18, 2014
A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Google to pay $17 million to settle U.S. states’ Safari user tracking probe – November 20, 2013
Judge dismisses case against Google over Safari user tracking – October 11, 2013
UK Apple Safari users sue Google for secretly tracking Web browsing – January 28, 2013
Google pays $22.5 million to settle charges of bypassing Apple Safari privacy settings – August 9, 2012
US FTC votes to fine Google $22.5 million for bypassing Safari privacy settings; Settlement allows Google to admit no liability – July 31, 2012
Google’s D.C. lobbyists have outspent Apple nearly 10 to 1 so far this year – July 23, 2012
Google to pay $22.5 million to settle charges over bypassing privacy settings of millions of Apple users – July 10, 2012
Apple’s anti-user tracking policy has mobile advertisers scrambling – May 9, 2012
Google said to be negotiating amount of U.S. FTC fine over Apple Safari breach – May 4, 2012
Cookies and privacy, Google and Safari – February 25, 2012
Obama’s privacy plan puts pinch on Google – February 24, 2012
Obama administration outlines online privacy guidelines – February 23, 2012
Google sued by Apple Safari-user for bypassing browser privacy – February 21, 2012
Google responds to Microsoft over privacy issues, calls IE’s cookie policy ‘widely non-operational’ – February 21, 2012
Google’s tracking of Safari users could prompt FTC investigation – February 18, 2012
WSJ: Google tracked iPhone, iPad users, bypassing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings; Microsoft denounces – February 17, 2012

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]


    1. Since visiting websites is ‘out’, I’m guessing the only way you can prevent any Google data collection would be to use your phone as just a phone, only ask Siri to perform actions on your device (no searches) and run only Apps that don’t require a connection to non-Apple services. (e.g. Apple Maps, iTunes, etc.)

  1. I always kind of suspected sneaky screwggle of harvesting on iOS without us knowing. Am I safe to say if you have one of their apps like YouTube that gives them access to all our data? Talk about Big Brother, those Stanford asshats are pure evil, no question about that. And now that mole Schmidt is deep underground, who knows what he’s up to.

  2. i care about privacy

    but truth is 99.9% of Android users users don’t seem to care. They use Google, Android, gmail happily and are happy even smug that it’s all ‘free’.
    The scrutiny of Google, twitter, Facebooks are being done by politicians, pressure groups etc not the general public. Some politicians , pressure groups are pissed off I think not because they think Google, Facebook etc is INTRINSICALLY morally wrong but that other politicians , groups are able to use them better than themselves.

    i talked to android users, not one is concerned about privacy.
    WORSE none thought Apple was any better, as Apple does a poor piss job communicating its advantages — how many Apple ads talk about it ? And no, contrary to what we fanboys or Apple thinks, no joe blow general public android user pays any attention to Tim Cook speeches.

    was in some parts of poorer asia recently where it’s almost 100% android – none care about privacy or internet safety. None thought Apple is any better or safer. absolutely none. in many places Google , Amazon is ranked higher in respect and customer satisfaction by the public than Apple.

    Look at many lawsuits Apple got for slowing iPhones vs Google privacy issues although Goog invades billions vs a relative handful with slow iPhones issues.

    1. I see you understand why Google will continue to be praised by Wall Street. It’s true that most people in the world care nothing about privacy (as they really have nothing worthwhile to hide). What do poor people with their mundane lives need to hide? Nothing. The only thing consumers want are “free” services and will happily trade their privacy and their mothers for the privilege. It’s hard to understand Apple’s privacy stance because so few people in the world are fighting for privacy. Android OS is winning big time on this planet and will continue to do so. iOS isn’t even close. Google is seen as a far more respectable company than Apple despite Apple’s privacy stance.

  3. I know it would probably never happen but wouldn’t it be nice if Apple could create a super VPN where all of its users data is run through the Appple vpn center and then no one could tell what the Apple users were doing…

    I know I know that’s a fantasy.

    The vpns our there now tend to run a little slower than a regular internet connection. Maybe Apple could figure a way to fix this issue so the data connection would be fast.

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