TLDR: If you log into any Google service, but don't want Google to know your phone number, you're so out of luck. I recently logged into my Google account and was presented with a web page showing my mobile phone number. I was being asked if I wanted to enable login verification using that number. The problem is, I don't ever remember giving Google my phone number. Initially I was puzzled and shocked: did I voluntarily give Google my phone number? I doubt it, given my general mistrust of Google. Then I got angry. How was it possible for Google get my phone number? Turns out, there's a clause in Google's so-called "privacy" policy which boasts about the right to collect user information, without explicit consent. See: <https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/#infocollect> Specifically, under "Device information": "We collect device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information including phone number). Google may associate your device identifiers or phone number with your Google Account." So, if you use a mobile phone to log into any Google service (including YouTube), Google has the ability to get your phone number and other identifying data from the mobile network. Maybe I should also thank Telstra for this breach of privacy? Then Google obviously did link this data with my Google Account, again without my permission. Google makes its money from advertising, so its goals are aligned more closely with the advertising industry than with the users of its services. Free comes at a price. One of the reasons I've never considered using an Android phone is specifically to limit my exposure to the advertising industry. Here's a very recent article which confirms my concerns about Google, Android and advertisers: "Georgia Tech Discovers How Mobile Ads Leak Personal Data" <http://www.news.gatech.edu/2016/02/22/georgia-tech-discovers-how-mobile-ads-leak-personal-data> "The personal information of millions of smartphone users is at risk due to in-app advertising that can leak potentially sensitive user information between ad networks and mobile app developers, according to a new study by the School of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology." That's Android, but, given Google's vast reach, even using an iPhone cannot stop it from gathering private data from users. My trust in Google has reached a new all-time low.
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Posted by Bruno at 3:35pm