Google is in some hot water for not only collecting data from call logs and text messages but also doing so without the consent of its users. This news comes just as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is deciding whether or not to approve a settlement between Google and the plaintiffs of an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit.
Google is a company that has always been focused on the privacy of their users and as such, they have always taken steps to ensure that you are in control of your data. You need to be aware of what they are doing and how they are collecting your data so that you can make educated decisions about whether you want Google to have access to it or not.
A Google engineer, Android Security Lead, and Chief of Privacy at Google, inadvertently disclosed the information about this practice in an email. They have since been suspended for a month because of this mistake.
Doughas Leith, a science professor from Trinity college, stated that Google collects call logs, contacts, along with the duration of the call logs, timestamps. The collection of data is done via a SHA26 hash, wherein the consent of the user is hidden in a hash form.
Google is collecting call logs and text messages, but it isn’t doing so with the user’s consent. When an Android user turns off the location services of their device, Google will be able to collect these texts and calls as well.
To monitor this data you have to turn off two settings on your Android phone: Google Now and Web & App Activity. There are various benefits to monitoring how you use these services, including providing insights into which features are most commonly used.
Data is collected by Google “to provide you with better services” and includes location info, contact lists, email content, and voice recordings. Once you’ve agreed to the terms of service, all data collected can be used in any way they see fit.
The collected call logs and text messages from Android devices are stored on their servers for up to two years before it’s deleted. Even after the deletion, these details can be added back to your account.
This is a huge violation of privacy and any data collected is not being used in the ways individuals might expect it to be. Google refuses to acknowledge that they are currently violating privacy laws but has promised to bring changes to the way they collect data in the future.