Google giveth, and Google taketh + privacy in the US

The EFF: ‘Google Removes Vital Privacy Feature From Android, Claiming Its Release Was Accidental’

That feature I lauded?  Removed in 4.4.2.  We’ll still need to wait and see what comes of it, but keep in mind where most of Google’s revenue comes from.

Interesting argument: Why is Google the only player whose location privacy is lacking?  Even Windows Phone can disable location access after the fact, and iOS has had this ability for quite some time.  This is something that Android has always been behind on, but no one’s really called them out on it.

The ACLU has a concept about how location data could be used.  It is an interesting concept, especially seeing as how the US Fifth Circuit and Six Circuit have ruled that you do not need a warrant to use cellular location data. Money quotes from the Fifth Circuit ruling:

Their use of their phones, moreover, is entirely voluntary . . . . The Government does not require a member of the public to own or carry a phone.  As the days of monopoly phone companies are past, the Government does not require him to obtain his cell phone service from a particular service provider that keeps historical cell site records for its subscribers, either. And it does not require him to make a call, let alone to make a call at a specific location.

The Government disputes the assertion that cell phone users do not voluntarily convey location information. It contends that the users know that they convey information about their location to their service providers when they make a call and that they voluntarily continue to make such calls.

I do give kudos to Judge Dennis for dissenting and bringing up the interesting link between e911 and location awareness.  To be compliant with FCC regulations, the location of a user in an emergency must be determined within 50 to 300 meters, with the more precise requirements being 50 meters for 67 percent of calls and 150 meters for 95 percent of calls.

In the end, it comes down to the end users working together and demanding for better.  In the Play Store or any app store for that matter, give poor reviews to invasive applications who request access to things they don’t need, and push your OS manufacturer to show that privacy of the utmost importance.  Push for your cellular carriers to respect your privacy, and push legislators for change.  We need to change the stance from an implied expectation of privacy to a concrete form.

Some of you may remember this song from the Geico commercial, but I think it’s a good fit.


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