Tag Archives: privacy

No Massive Google Play Privacy Issue

If you follow any iOS technology blogs you might have seen this recent scandal:

If you bought the app on Google Play (even if you cancelled the order) I have your email address, your suburb, and in many instances your full name.

This, they say, is bad because this is not what happens with Apple’s App Store.

However, I don’t think Google are doing anything weird here, and I say this as someone who is not a fan of Android. The commercial relationship between developers and Apple is different from the relationship between Google and developers1.

In Apple’s case, the developer has a single customer (Apple). You licence your code to Apple and Apple sells your app. The end users relationship is with Apple, not the developer. You get royalties, much in the same way that you get royalties when you publish a book. I’m still waiting for my million dollar advance from Apple, but the principle is the same.

Google plays a different role. They’re just an intermediary. The customers buys the app directly from the developer (using Google Wallet). This is why the developer has access to email, location, etc.

Saying that this is a privacy issue is like paying for a latte with a credit card and complaining that Starbucks now has your Amex number and name. Of course they do.

There are always stories of disreputable restaurants skimming credit cards and defrauding consumers. The trick, insofar as there is one, is not to eat at those restaurants. Similarly, if you think a developer is likely to use your data in an underhand manner, don’t download their software. It’s that simple.

Should Google be more upfront about who gets what details? Possibly. It never hurts to be open and honest — dare I say, not evil — about privacy matters. But I don’t think what they’re doing is inherently bad.

  1. Please let me know if I have any of this wrong. I don’t develop Android software but this is my understanding of how it all works. []

My delicious.com bookmarks for December 6th through December 7th

  • This case must not obscure what WikiLeaks has told us – Another good piece about WikiLeaks. The news about Assange is starting to obscure the real news.
  • Live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. It’s your choice. – "What WikiLeaks is really exposing is the extent to which the western democratic system has been hollowed out. In the last decade its political elites have been shown to be incompetent; corrupt; or recklessly militaristic. And yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted, their reflex reaction is to kill the messenger."

My delicious.com bookmarks for November 18th through November 19th

  • The religious excuse for barbarity – "No, we don’t respect your desire to needlessly torment animals because some hallucinating desert nomads did it centuries ago. We don’t respect it at all. You can cry that we are “persecuting” you if we stop you committing acts of cruelty if you want."
  • Penn & Teller – Penn (of Penn and Teller fame) protests the new TSA rules.

My delicious.com bookmarks for May 6th through May 8th

  • Apple drawing 3.0 line in the sand for iPhone developers – This can only mean that the release is getting pretty close. And, significantly, that the APIs are stabilising — I had to rewrite almost everything I did with the first beta when the latest version of the developer kit came out.
  • DNA Database Doublecross – "Yet again this government shows its deep contempt for international courts, and demonstrates its profoundly cynical belief that the innocent simply haven't been proved guilty yet."
  • Jacqui Smith enlists high street help for ID cards scheme – Doesn't using high street shops to make ID cards make it substantially less secure? Wasn't the whole point that ID cards were an unbreakable scheme? This just gets worse and worse.