Google, turns back to privacy: What the GPS of your phone says about you without you noticing?

I am a good customer for Google. I have not said user. I said customer. I know the difference, and I know if I use your wonderful -many services are- change is because I am giving Google something that I may seem a small thing a priori me, but for them it is a gold mine. My data. What I want, what I read, what I see, what I hear, with whom I relate, or where I go.

I am, as the vast majority of customer Services Company, a victim of that fuzzy equilibrium in which one ends up preferring to give up some privacy in exchange for much comfort. The problem is that Google’s voracity by our data is becoming so huge that even the loyal customers like me should rethink things. And you should too.

Google Maps
Image Source: Google Image

Blessed-cursed GPS

In The Register and they talked about it a couple of days ago. You may think that uninstalling Google Maps tracking and monitoring your location disappear: be wrong. The Google Play Services is responsible for capturing the data without most know.

It is true that the latest revisions of Android allow you to have a much finer permits we attach to each application control. I have vetoed the permit ubitación the vast majority of applications that I have installed, but inevitably use some of them as Waze or Google Maps.

Using the GPS receiver of our mobile brings many advantages, but there are obvious: the call Google Awareness API. A set of libraries that allow our mobile react based on various types of events Our smartphone may well suggest all kinds of actions based on things like time of day, our location, connecting earphones, or even the weather forecast -type detection iBeacons- beacons that communicate with our devices.

This is where Google convinces us with its futuristic message: one may be taking the car toward home and our home automation system- and we put on, we do irla welfare would be responsible for leaving the right temperature, turning on the lights. Just before we get or opening the garage door when we need are examples much more realistic today, of course: many of you receive notification about that package that are waiting or that have to take flight? There you have it: Google gives you such notifications to make life more comfortable, but getting things you need to know. And the more you know the better. What is not so clear is it better for us customers.

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Google follows us wherever we go

The problem is that as it has been discovered that voracity to collect our location among other data- is becoming something disturbing. Mustafa Al-Bassam, a security researcher, commented recently on Twitter how “almost had a heart attack” when entering a McDonalds on your phone and receive a notification inviting him to download the mobile application of this chain.

How was that possible? It found that Google Maps was effectively disabled -including the location- at the time, but it was not Google Play, the app store that had monitored its location a thousand times.

As explained in ExtremeTech, one of the problems posed by Google in Android development is that slowly has been replacing components free and open source AOSP components of proprietary code which then forces manufacturers to install. You can use my operating system on your mobile, yes, but for this you have to pre-install all my services and applications. What’s the problem? It is precisely what users want.

Maybe yes, but these services have a series of APIs among which includes location – based. According to some analysts what happened to Al-Bassam was a side effect of Nearby, a new feature that Google spoke last June : as often do not know what is the best application to be installed at all times (or more But in each place) you should not worry, because thanks to the Google location will suggest you precisely those perfect applications for that moment (or rather insist, that place).

What can we do about it?

The problem is that the solution is as effective as uncomfortable: is continuously disable location permits and cash them as activating each time you need them.

That is a logical implication: we must be careful and turn off those same permissions when you’re done to take advantage of that specific function needed at the specific moment in which we were using. Otherwise, you know: Google collect that information because you assume he does not care that you do.

There are also more advanced solutions like trying to manage our privacy tools like XPrivacy -after installing the Xposed Framework, and that the terminally prior rooteo, something that is not at all trivial for most Android users.

A more radical option is, of course, stop being Google customers. To do this we would have to get rid of Google Play and other Google applications and services. That is complicated in the Android ecosystem, but there are options, of course. There are several ROMs that provide that option, but we must learn to live without all these tools and services.

It is the familiar debate between the convenience of having everything to blow handpick and enjoy an ecosystem in which everything works (usually), or fight the system and try to protect our privacy, with the myriad annoyances that often controller- with alternatives to Google and other companies pursuing our data with a voracity that Google demonstrates once again with this kind of initiatives. More on

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