New Concerns Arise over Google's Attitude Toward Users' Privacy

By Ed Silverstein February 14, 2013

New privacy concerns are developing after it was reported that Google Play – a company app and content store – provides e-mail addresses to developers.

The incident is one of a series of occasions where Google has been singled out over privacy concerns. The latest was even a surprise to veteran technology specialists.

“Every App purchase you make on Google Play gives the developer your name, suburb [town] and email address with no indication that this information is actually being transferred,” according to a blog post from Dan Nolan, a developer. “With the information I have available to me through the checkout portal I could track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase.”

“This is a massive oversight by Google. Under no circumstances should I be able to get the information of the people who are buying my apps unless they opt into it and it’s made crystal clear to them that I’m getting this information,” Nolan added. “This is a massive, massive privacy issue, Google. Fix it. Immediately.”

In addition, Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Marketing Land, warns that Google’s privacy policies don’t make it clear the practice is taking place, “something Google probably needs to correct.”

“Handing out e-mail addresses is, to me, pretty personal information,” Sullivan added. “It is to Google, as well. I sure had no idea that Google Play did this. Nor do I think others would understand that…. Google’s doing a poor job of disclosing that e-mails are being passed along to developers.”

Google does say in public that those who purchase a subscription on Magazines on Google Play, will get their name, e-mail address, mailing address and an identifier shared with the magazine’s publisher. In addition, Google’s main privacy policy says the company provides “personal information to our affiliates or other trusted businesses or persons to process it for us, based on our instructions and in compliance with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.” 

Hardly a clear statement given the current privacy controversy.

Controversy about privacy is nothing new for Google. Recently, Microsoft urged people to drop Google’s Gmail for because of privacy policies. Gmail scans the content of personal e-mails to better target ads.  

But a new Microsoft-sponsored survey shows nine in 10 Americans disapprove of the practice, TechZone360 said.

Last year, Google was ordered to pay a record $22.5 million fine by U.S. regulators for Internet privacy violations. There are similar concerns in Europe about Google’s collection of users’ personal data.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Contributor

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