I feel Google owns me now - concerned about data privacy


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  1. dgray

    dgray Member This Topic's Starter

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    Got an Android phone (Samsung Captivate) recently - new user - and as much as I like that phone, my joy is extremely overshadowed by the feeling that Google knows a lot about me in exchange, and I have lost control over the privacy of my data whenever I use the phone.

    The contacts, calendar, android market, browsing, emails ... everything I do, now Google knows. Too many agreements that I am agreeing to with Google without fully understand those as I setup the phone.

    The phone, the applications on the phone, my data - all have become one with Google. It is not like a PC/laptop any more where I know that my data is safe with me and not somewhere on the internet.

    I don't mean to offend believers in the cloud or Google and the security of my data there - so please don't respond in that philosophical context.

    I feel so strongly about this, that just for this reason I would rather go with an iphone than an android based phone.

    Is there a way for me to limit and control the information Google gets as I use this phone?

    Does anybody else share this concern, and have any thoughts about this?

    BTW, a phone is primarily a device for me to conduct business - I am not excited by the uncontrolled connectivity between the applications and with my personal data in the cloud.
     

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  2. emuneee

    emuneee Well-Known Member

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    Well you might want to skip the iPhone and go for a Windows Mobile or Symbian handset. Apple does track its users autonomously.

    I have all my personal data in Google's system as well...email, calendar, contacts, RSS feeds, Picasso, etc. Does it bother me? Not until the give me a reason to suspect anything. This is just the future of computing taking shape. Scares a lot of people because you have to give up a lot of privacy seemingly.
     
  3. Chromag

    Chromag Well-Known Member

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    You could just NOT use the Google software (other than the OS obviously) provided and use an alternative. Also - how are they going to know about your browsing?
     
  4. mckooter

    mckooter Well-Known Member

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    hi steve jobs, (i kid, i kid)

    seriously though:

    the amazing part of this operating system is that you can see what your agreeing to, you can replace any part of the phone with an app of your choice (including contacts, dialer, etc) and the source code is open and readily available. Now I understand that you may not have the time or programming knowledge to read through the source, and all the agreements, but the great thing is this os has become large enough that others definately have looked into the stock apps. and as ive mentioned above, you can replace them.

    i think your disillusioned thinking that apple is not collecting info like google is. they readily admit it with the new iad platform. i am not denying that google is keeping tabs on you (and me) but am simply pointing out that everyone is.

    just my .02
     
  5. dgray

    dgray Member This Topic's Starter

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    Ok, is there a setting on the phone that helps me do this effectively? Please help if you know the specific things I can do on the phone to "disconnect" myself from Google. The basic purpose of the phone being to call my contacts, even the contacts are getting synced up with Google.

    Secondly, how does google know about your browsing - it would be the same way as it happens on the computer. Typically, people are signed on to their google account using their browser. When they search anything (which is usually the first step to browsing), google tracks the searches to the specific user account. In the case of android phone, all the main applications - contacts, browser, email, feeds are all signed in to the google account.

    I have not yet found a way to use the phone effectively without being signed on to my google account - I am also a new user of android phone, so I might be ignorant.

    To the responder who mentioned that Apple also tracks 'anonymously', I think that may be far more acceptable to me than this current scenario where all my personal data can be traced by google and correlated to my specific google account.

    Again, I have never yet owned an iphone - so I have nothing for or against Apple. I am simply a business user of a smart phone. The suggestion of using a Windows phone is an equally good one from my perspective.

    To avoid responses that may imply - 'I have nothing to hide, so I don't care what google does' - neither do I have anything to hide - but my aggregated data in the hands of a single entity (who might not be malicious today, but I can't predict future) can put me at enormous risk.
     
  6. dgray

    dgray Member This Topic's Starter

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    Thanks for the first tip regarding replacing contacts & dialer - that's a good suggestion. I have searched Samsung's website, and also AT&T's but not found any documentation on doing this. Is there a reliable source without having to scour the web where I can find documentation to do this? I have also called Samsung and AT&T customer support and they know very little and each asked me to talk to the other.

    I'll disagree about your comparison of the data being collected by Apple and Google - while they both are keeping tabs, Google has far greater and comprehensive access to user data than Apple just because of all their apps which encompass all internet usage - mobile or computer. If I use an iphone with a gmail account, at least Apple will not have access to my gmail usage if I were to use that using a computer.
     
  7. Chromag

    Chromag Well-Known Member

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    Don't use Gmail and don't use Google to search. I'm pretty sure you can use your contact list and calendar without syncing to Gmail and Google.
     
  8. dgray

    dgray Member This Topic's Starter

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    I have made my decision - I am not going to use an Android phone because the integration with Google is too strong.

    At a given time, I have no idea which Application on the phone I am using, and if it is signed on to my google account, and what personal data it is saving on Google. I don't know how to monitor and manage my personal information being saved with Google.

    It makes Microsoft's integration of IE with the Windows look benign.

    I couldn't find a way to move all my contacts from Palm Centro to the Captivate without using gmail. I was hoping I could connect the phone to the computer, copy the contacts to phone's storage and then import the contacts - but while I could connect the phone to the computer, I could not copy the contacts to the phone.

    It does not seem intuitive and convenient (at least to me), how I can use this phone without being connected to google. Most actions I did on the phone required me to sign on to my google account. The documentation available at Samsung or At&t is minimal.

    This may seem simple enough for savvy Android users, but guess I am not and seems complicated to me - changing settings, changing default applications and behavior and making things work, understanding the data exchanged with google. Out of the box, the phone is entirely connected with Google and I don't think I am savvy enough to disconnect it from google and have the confidence I have achieved that effectively.
     
  9. ilusv

    ilusv Well-Known Member

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    My two biggest issues are not having a two way sync with outlook (kies never worked and I spent way too much time trying to get it to work) and not being able to backup the phone with a utility/software that Google provides. I fully understand your concerns.
     
  10. Ph8

    Ph8 Well-Known Member

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    For the contacts issue did you try using the Samsung kies program, suposedly you can import your contacts that way if you can get them to your computer (csv file).

    As far as integration goes, no matter what you choose Apple, Andriod, Windows they are going to have a lot of control over the information you have in your phone. It one of the things people are going to get used to as everyone is moving towards cloud networks/computing. If you want to be totally decentralized your best bet and "safest" would do use a dumb phone and keep all of your computer stuff on the computer.

    Hopefully that didnt sound like I was bashing you, becasue I'm not trying to, I understand where you are coming from. For me personally though if they want to peer into my "boring" life then go ahead lol.....
     
  11. nmoline

    nmoline Well-Known Member

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    What are you afraid of? Unless you are selling meth or some other illegal activity what do you have to hide? If google uses your private info without your consent sure them and get rich.You have nothing to fear, you are just being a worry wart.
     
  12. sremick

    sremick Well-Known Member

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    No, the OP's concerns are legit. Your position is akin to the "if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide" stance that oppressive governments use to abuse their surveillance and spying measures on the public.

    While I don't think it's as bad as the OP does, there's nothing wrong with his basic concern. Even law-abiding citizens have a right to privacy.
     
  13. nmoline

    nmoline Well-Known Member

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    I agree you have a right to privacy and I understand the law plenty. But if Google is illegally taking your information then you have plenty of redress under the law. There is no reason to have as much concern as the OP has over this subject. He is afraid that his contacts are syncing with his google account online? Does he think that google is going to enter his account out of the millions of account they have and call his uncle? What is he afraid Google will do with this information that will cause him any harm, that he can't have properly redressed under the laws of this country?
     
  14. dgray

    dgray Member This Topic's Starter

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    - Google calling my uncle would be the last of my concerns. None of them is alive any more, so this particularly is not my concern.

    - There is a lot that can go wrong with people's information. Considering that it is not my job to teach you, feel free to educate yourself, or I am sure you will have an opportunity to learn yourself the hard way.

    - Lastly, I don't have the time and money to engage in a legal battle with Google. I think there are far better options available to me to avoid that scenario - which includes not having an android phone at all.
     
  15. nmoline

    nmoline Well-Known Member

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    Not trying to fight with you over this; but your issue seems to be more with smartphones in general instead of an Android phone. As a previous user said the only way you can keep all this information completely yours is to not buy an Apple, Android, or Blackberry phone. Get a simple messaging phone with no data connection.

    Another question, what do you use for your email? Do you have your own server or do you use gmail, yahoo, aol? Your reasoning on privacy would make it impossible for you to use a mail service in which your personal/business email is routed through a company's servers.

    Finally, if you Google takes your information and uses it without your consent I would be willing to represent you on a contingency basis no cost out of your pocket except a few filing fees. Less than a $1,000 up front and I will take 33% off any settlement or judgment we receive.
     
  16. jasonsmith

    jasonsmith Active Member

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    I hear ya and share your concerns but to put this into perspective just a little bit... if you were only that important that anyone at Google was actually watching and tracking you then you would have a lot of other concerns. I don't mean that in a rude way but more of a "look at the big picture" way. Your personal information has been unsafe since the day you hooked up to the internet. Think of all the websites you have signed up to, Amazon, FleaBay, Paypal, Skype etc, they all have your personal information. Are you a Facebook - Twitter user by any chance, do you use your real name, if not do any of your friends use their real names because that will negate your assumed name. The trick in this day and age is to not to overprotect yourself but stay under the radar. All of your info on Google is encrypted and may actually be safer than residing on your own hardware.

    At least that's what I tell myself so I feel better about it all. :rolleyes:
     
  17. Chromag

    Chromag Well-Known Member

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    Here's a stupid question. If you are SO worried about it why did you create an account with Google in the first place? You do realize you can set your email up to pull from any POP3 or IMAP email account? As I said before - I'm pretty sure you can use your contacts and calendar on your phone without syncing with Google.
     
  18. sremick

    sremick Well-Known Member

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    Not everything that is unethical is illegal. One doesn't always have a legal recourse when wronged/mistreated.
     
  19. yahoowizard

    yahoowizard Well-Known Member

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    If there was ever a company I would trust my privacy/details with, it would be Google for sure. Then again, considering the fact that Google has so much power over the internet that it can shut it down, and considering that it has so much info, if it were ever to get hacked, I think that would be pretty close to a global collapse in many aspects.
     
  20. sremick

    sremick Well-Known Member

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    And I agree. :) Which is why I'm keeping my Captivate and the Google account I use for no other real reason except to enable it. I was only pointing out that, in a general sense, the OP's point and concerns are valid and the whole "if you're doing nothing wrong, you've nothing to hide" and "if something happens, just sue" aren't really valid responses.
     
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  21. peachpuff

    peachpuff Well-Known Member

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    Im sure google will face with the same privacy "issues" that facebook went through recently, does an app really need to know your exact location before you use it... i don't think so. Shit will hit the fan eventually, just wait.
     
  22. Uzza

    Uzza Well-Known Member

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    What you need to understand, is that those messages that you are skipping are giving you the promises (legal promises) of what Google won't do.

    Also consider this,
    BlackBerry just updated its software making it almost impossible to pull contacts from its phones to go to a new platform. It took me six hours to figure out how to do this for my boss. Google has always done its BEST, to make sure that it has export options so that you could quickly leave whenever you wanted.

    Google is NOT perfect, but they do understand their responsibilities. If you think Iphone is better, you are curtly mistaken.
     
  23. Chromag

    Chromag Well-Known Member

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    A GPS app does.. "nearby me" types also do.. etc etc. Everytime you install an app from the market it tells you what phone features it uses. Pretty straight forward if you ask me.
     
  24. baddress

    baddress Well-Known Member

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    Just do what I do. Fill up the Internet with so much bogus and fake information about yourself that nobody could ever find the truth.
     
  25. dgray

    dgray Member This Topic's Starter

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    Yes, when you install an app, it tells you what phone features it uses - but the details were not clear to me.

    I downloaded a couple of apps, and they gave me a about a page full of list of features they would access. I don't recall the exact wording, but one application said it will access the phone calls - first, I did not see the need for that application to access the phone calls, secondly I did not understand what it would mean for the application to access the phone calls - will it store the phone calls made or received in some database, will it store those phone numbers, how will it ensure the security of that data stored, how will it ensure that I am protected from any damages due to lost or stolen data.

    Certainly not straightforward from my perspective.
     

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