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Skyhook chief: Android data privacy much worse than iOS

updated 04:25 pm EDT, Thu April 28, 2011

Skyhook believes Android harvesting worse than iOS

Skyhook chief Ted Morgan in a discussion Wednesday accused Google of having much worse privacy in Android than Apple does in iOS. He argued that Android was quietly collecting data much more frequently, "1,000 times a day," and was sending background pings to Google on its own instead of just explicit location requests. Google's claims that location tracking was strictly opt-in and anonymized didn't hold up, Morgan explained to SAI, since it was not only a much more complete and traceable record than what an iPhone obtained but was being passed on to Google's servers.

"You might not use [your phone] for a month, but every single place you've been for a month is being recorded by them," he said. "So that, one is an over aggressive use of your phone, and two, there is also an identifier associated with your location history. They say it's anonymized, but that doesn't matter. It has every place you've been, there's just no name on it."

While Google is using the information mostly for its core ad business, the accessibility made it more of a real risk. Theft of an iPhone could expose the location file at the heart of recent controversy, but Google's data could equally be compromised by a skilled hack or a government-ordered search.

Skyhook, which provides geolocation for a variety of devices, has a motivation to criticize Google given its ongoing lawsuit for Google allegedly forcing Motorola and others to use the official Google system. The method used by Morgan's company, however, is deliberately harder to track and treats each position check individually instead of creating a history. No device probing went out and prevented Skyhook from identifying a given phone in any way.

The CEO added that his company was still doing business with Apple even after it dropped direct use of the Skyhook system for getting a position lock. He couldn't disclose what the relationship was for, however.

by MacNN Staff



  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Are we surprised? Nope.

    Apple uses location data to improve your experience. Google uses location data to improve their AdMob ad focus. Because, as we should all know by now, Google makes 96% of its revenue from ads.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You Android users out there,

    feel free to not ask any questions. We have learned that by asking questions about something on your phone, it shows you just don't know how to use your phone, or are a (insert dubiously assigned physical characteristic)'d moron.

  1. imNat-imadouche

    Joined: Dec 1969


    bias much?

    your comment

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's funny that

    when something goes wrong with iOS/iPhone, the instinctive action for Apple or their fanbois is to draw comparisons with other platforms in an attempt to draw some heat away from them. Like saying, "See, they do it too. We're not that bad..."


    - Sent from my Android Device.

  1. facebook_Pete

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2011



    Big Brother is watching all Drrrrroid users out there. Welcome to 1984!

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ...will the mainstream media report on this? Doubtful.

  1. mrrwthird

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "Secretly", right?

    Mine's off all the time, and my database size is 0.

    Turn your i device location services off, and your database size continues to grow.

    See why this is worlds apart?

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