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Privacy Cellphones Iphone The Courts Apple

Apple Privacy Concerns Go To Court 73

An anonymous reader writes "From the article: 'Apple is being sued for allegedly letting mobile apps on the iPhone and iPad send personal information to ad networks without the consent of users.' Some of the apps listed are on the Android Market as well, but there is no mention of a similar problem for Google. One wonders if Apple could be persuaded to strip access to the unique phone identifiers from apps." A followup article with an industry lawyer suggests that this lawsuit could be the first of many as users push back against privacy intrusions by app developers and ad networks.
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Apple Privacy Concerns Go To Court

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  • Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 01, 2011 @10:47AM (#34729988)

    It's about time someone got tired of it.

  • by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @12:06PM (#34730332) Homepage

    > then why do so many android apps require internet access, and other information, even though they are just a simple game?, note pad, etc.

    Precisely. But it goes a little deeper than that to me. I have an LG Ally (with Verizon), which is a lower-priced Android phone. I don't know if this can be applied across the board, but my experience so far has been a little troubling.

    Just to use the Market app, "background data" (i.e., constant access) has to be enabled. Why? Why can't that app simply "dial in," fetch the info, let me make the purchase, and disconnect? I keep Background Data disabled on principle, and yet: the You Tube app continually updates. I don't need Skype on my phone, but it's always re-enabling itself, and constantly "pings" the Intertubez.

    Most troubling of all to me is the Backup Assistant. (Do a Google on "disable backup assistant" and you'll see I'm not the only one who hates that thing.) Some of us don't *like* the concept of "cloud" computing. I realize that Google loves it, and in retrospect, I should have thought of that before trading my Blackberry for an Android-based phone. But I don't want my personal data stored on a computer somewhere in Alta Vista or Atlanta. That's MY personal data, and I don't want anyone else to have access to it.

    Which raises the question: WHY is Verizon/Android so anal about that Backup Assistant, and having constant Internet access, even when I've specifically disabled it? Call me suspicious, but it DOES make me wonder if they are farming marketable data from that stuff. (The only way to get rid of Backup Assistant, Skype and the You Tube apps, from what I've seen in the Android forums, is to "root" my phone, which will void the warranty.)

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Saturday January 01, 2011 @03:04PM (#34731454)

    ... then why do so many android apps require internet access, and other information, even though they are just a simple game?, note pad, etc ...

    Apps may report non-personal info that is used only by the app developer. For example is the device a phone or tablet, what version of the OS is being used, what 3D chip? Things that a developer may find useful in order to guide further development.

    Even a calculator might want to "phone" non-personal info home. I have a calculator, Perpenso Calc for iPhone and iPad []. It offers scientific, statistics, hex and bill/tip functionality. An update will soon add business/finance functionality. I have *thought about* adding code that records the number of operations performed in each of these area and reporting back to a server. This info would be transmitted in annotated plain text so that anyone watching packets can verify for themselves that no personally identifiable information is being sent and that the data is as advertised. On the sever side the data would be anonymously logged, no IP addresses or anything else. The purpose of all this would be to see which calculator functionality (scientific, hex or business) is more heavily used, and to guide further development using the feedback.

    Again, I have *not* done this. Its just a thought. However I think this offers an example of a non-malevolent reason for virtually any app to establish a network connection. I am eager to hear community opinions, I encourage folks to post a response. Thanks in advance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 01, 2011 @04:56PM (#34732372)

    And that is despite nokia ignoring it nearly to the point of deliberately sabotaging it, at the same time dragging their feet and mucking up its successor phone/platform. Its not that I trust them either, I'm sure some of their management is salivating about building up an "app empire" of their own to milk data from.

    I can install and run any PROGRAM* I want to do just about anything the hardware is capable of. There are some limits due to closed drivers and such, but the community is still managing to work its way around some of those. The biggest closed driver offender is the battery management but usb host mode is mostly working in spite of it. There are also some limits that are more about the lack of driver completeness rather than being closed, the wlan chip is a good example of this.

    I have full control over the PROGRAM* due to being root when needed, if it is particularly insidious it can be denied access to files/programs/networks/domains/etc or even lied to believe it is "online" when in fact it is safely jailed in a neat little sandbox.

    Its also quite nice to be able to run a browser with ad filtering, script blocking, user agent modification and whatever else needed for control freak websites, those are becoming really popular with developers now and really annoying.
    I can load the "full desktop version" of many sites much faster than someone next to me on the same network can load the dumbed down "mobile version", its amazing how much bandwidth can be saved and spurious dns queries avoided for the 50 different ad/tracking domains. I even still (mostly) eat my flash cake too! I can selectively run most embedded flash videos and avoid the rest of them, the burnt crust :)

    * "app" is a iMarketing crapware buzzword. Though it does match being a bastardized incomplete version of the word application, much like the half-arsed garbage that fills the "huge library of apps" often touted by the two main platforms. Its sad they expect people to pay for some of that absolute trash AND bend over to the spyware as well.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.