Google bankrupting Apple’s privacy promises by handing over iPhone data to the police

“A New York Times investigation into how Google furnishes law enforcement with phone data exposed one crucial detail — having an iPhone doesn’t stop Google handing over your data,” Isobel Asher Hamilton reports for Business Insider.

“The in-depth investigation by the Times revealed many details about how Google uses its in-house database — called Sensorvault — to cooperate with law enforcement,” Hamilton reports. “Using the database, Google is able to provide police with the data of phones from a specific time and location. By submitting ‘geofence’ warrants, police are able to look at which phones were in close proximity to a crime. According to a Google employee, the firm once received as many as 180 of such requests in one week.”

“The data attached to each phone is initially anonymous, then once police have whittled down the number of suspect devices, Google provides them with the names of the people each device is associated with,” Hamilton reports. “An intelligence analyst, who has himself examined the data from hundreds of phones, told the Times that it wasn’t just Android users who had their information examined by law enforcement. He said ‘most Android devices’ and ‘some iPhones”‘ had their data made available by Google… It is not clear from the Times’ piece exactly how Google was able to provide law enforcement with the data of iPhone users, although it seems possible that it was able to do so through installed Google services, such as Google Maps.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Investigators who spoke with The New York Times said they had not sent geofence warrants to companies other than Google, and Apple said it did not have the ability to perform those searches,” Jennifer Valentino-Devries reports for The New York Times. “Detectives noted how precise the data was and how it was collected even when people weren’t making calls or using apps — both improvements over tracking that relies on cell towers. ‘It shows the whole pattern of life,’ said Mark Bruley, the deputy police chief in Brooklyn Park, Minn., where investigators have been using the technique since this fall.”

“Location data is a lucrative business — and Google is by far the biggest player, propelled largely by its Android phones. It uses the data to power advertising tailored to a person’s location, part of a more than $20 billion market for location-based ads last year,” Valentino-Devries reports. “In 2009, the company introduced Location History, a feature for users who wanted to see where they had been. Sensorvault stores information on anyone who has opted in, allowing regular collection of data from GPS signals, cellphone towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth beacons. People who turn on the feature can see a timeline of their activity and get recommendations based on it. Google apps prompt users to enable Location History for things like traffic alerts. Information in the database is held indefinitely, unless the user deletes it.”

“The Fourth Amendment says a warrant must request a limited search and establish probable cause that evidence related to a crime will be found,” Valentino-Devries reports. “Warrants reviewed by The Times frequently established probable cause by explaining that most Americans owned cellphones and that Google held location data on many of these phones. The areas they targeted ranged from single buildings to multiple blocks, and most sought data over a few hours.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, do not install Google apps or use Google services on your iOS devices if you value your privacy and, if you’re a U.S. citizen especially, your constitutional rights.

If Google cannot track users, their business model is not viable.MacDailyNews, February 14, 2019

With Google, you are the product. Even if their products start out benignly, they will not stay that way because Google’s ultimate goal is to vacuum up everything, to know everything it possibly can, in order to target ads precisely to you for which they can charge more (highly targeted ads work better and are therefore more valuable).

So, when an Alphabet Inc. “product” (personal data siphon) like Google Photos comes out, for just one of many examples, our immediate advice is always to ignore the pretty bells and whistles for this will go badly for your privacy sooner or later. Most likely, sooner.

This is why people are stupid (or ignorant) to shackle their children to Google products via public school systems. Gmail addresses are required, of course, and it just gets worse from there. Even if Google swears to do nothing with the data while the student in in school, these kids will eventually exit school systems with Gmail addresses, Google Docs, Google Drives, Google Photos, etc. – it’s an indoctrination program that people pay for via their school taxes.

People are equally as stupid (or ignorant) when they screw themselves and their family members with Android phones. It’s simply idiocy (or naivety) that Google preys upon for profit.

Using an Android phone and/or Google apps (including on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone) is branding yourself a fool.MacDailyNews, September 24, 2018

Some 17,000 Android apps track users, even when told to stop – February 14, 2019
Is Google purposefully breaking Microsoft, Apple browsers on its websites? – December 19, 2018
Google exposed user data, did not disclose to public fearing repercussions – October 10, 2018
After trying and failing to hide the issue, Alphabet pulls plug on Google+ after bug exposes data from up to 500,000 users – October 8, 2018
Why I’m done with Google’s Chrome browser – September 24, 2018
Researchers find Google harvests more data from Android – and Apple iOS – users than most people think – August 21, 2018
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


    1. And if you’re too intellectually lazy or dishonest to see the easily selected option for “DuckDuckGo”, your head’s buried too far up your own bum to be reasoned with.

      1. I wasn’t aware that you could change the default search on iOS for Siri that way too. Or were you unaware Siri has been spying on Google’s behalf on your voice requests due to the default search deal?

  1. Even if we don’t use any Google apps or services on Apple devices, many websites use Google Analytics, etc., etc., which track you anyway. How do you prevent that? I am not sure if privacy is even possible anymore. If it is, please suggest an article. Everything I’ve ever read comes with so many caveats and inconveniences and maybes that following their advice would make using your devices very limited in scope and might not work anyway.

      1. Amazon, Google and Facebook will never be regulated in the U.S. They’re practically pillars of free enterprise in America. Just those three companies alone are worth too much to be tampered with in any form. There are likely a lot of powerful people who own stock in those companies and I’m sure those companies are giving personal information to intelligence agencies. Nope, no regulation for those companies because they simply too valuable in several ways. Apple is wasting its time and effort advocating privacy and security as very few people are concerned about such things. Apple will always end up losing to those companies as Apple has very few backers.

        1. The railroads were that powerful, perhaps more, over 100 years ago. Until a political wave strong enough happened to bust them up, along with the largest oil company. It can happen. Is it perfect? No. And it isn’t designed to eliminate all capitalism. Just regulate it, hopefully wisely. For awhile.

      2. Interesting thought. Would that also mean like other essential public utilities Google would be paid by the user via a monthly surcharge on some bill? At the same time this would mean Google would no longer have to pay Apple anything since they would have a steady stream of income as a government sanctioned monopoly.

        1. We really need to establish ownership of information. Also Right to be Forgotten, etc.

          And maybe all search engines and advertising engines, not just Google.

    1. These days it may be unreasonable to expect complete privacy unless you have completely airgapped your phone, basically making it a mini tablet with no data/voice connections.

      Makes me wonder though if you only used the GPS would that still enable tracking you remotely?

  2. Look, I’m all for privacy, but when a crime is committed, I’m willing to give up that privacy to catch the perpetrator. Google needs a warrant to give over the data- they’re not just going to hand it over on a whim. I don’t see the problem in using phone data to fight crime. It’s when it’s used against law abiding citizens that it becomes a problem. I don’t see that happening (at least, not yet).

    1. It IS being used against law-abiding citizens. These geofenced warrants provide the location data on thousands of people who did not commit a crime, and are not even suspected of one. It allows the government to identify everyone who carried a connected device into the surveilled area within the critical period in the hope that one of them might be a criminal.

      There is a reason that most of us do not live-stream our location to the entire world. We regard that information as personal for reasons of both privacy and safety. This practice sounds suspiciously like the “general warrants” that helped motivate the American War of Independence and were banned by the Constitution.

    1. Good for you!, However, you may not be using Google Services directly but you may be using them inadvertently by visiting websites or, having contact via text/email with an individual using Google Services.

  3. Establishing probable cause: “…by explaining that most Americans owned cellphones and that Google held location data on many of these phones.”


  4. Location Services: Off
    DDG for search engine
    I don’t carry my phone everywhere, only when I think I might need it. I’m making my iPhone, iPad, and Laptop less of a part of my life.

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