Consumer Warning: Google's App Store Shares Personal Information

Consumer Warning: Google's App Store Shares Personal Information

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Last week we launched a campaign to make consumers aware that Google shares users' personal information with app developers each time they purchase an app from Google’s app store, Google Play. Today we are releasing a tip sheet to help explain the privacy risks to consumers and suggest some tips to help consumers protect their privacy. The tip sheet is below or you can download the PDF. To find out more, go to www.scroogled.com.

CONSUMER WARNING: GOOGLE’S APP STORE SHARES PERSONAL INFORMATION

Attention Android phone users: Every time you buy any app from Google’s app store, Google Play, without clear warning, Google sends the app maker your personal information, including your full name, email address, and the area where you live. In 2012, 54 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers used Google’s app store.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
 
Google’s app store has a privacy flaw that’s impacting tens of millions of smartphone users in the United States. Google systematically violates user privacy by passing along the personal information of tens of millions of users across hundreds of millions of app purchases to third party app makers spread all over the world.

Google’s app store shares consumers’ personal information with no clear warning. If you buy any app from Google’s app store, Google sends the app maker your personal information, including your full name, email address, and the area where you live. Nothing on the purchase screen or in your email receipt lets you know that the app maker is receiving your personal details. Even if you cancel the order, you can’t get your personal information back.
 
Many apps cover personal subjects. Google violates your privacy by sharing information about apps you’ve purchased related to very personal subjects, including apps that help with health and sexual behavior. Google shares the full name, email address and neighborhood of people who download apps related to: the treatment of diseases; sexual behavior; weight loss; depression; and infertility.
 
Your personal information is at risk. As Google puts more of your personal information in the hands of others, including your full name, email address, and the neighborhood where you live, it becomes more likely for your personal information to be abused and further circulated. With your full name and zip code, third parties could locate your specific street address and demographic information, as shown. Beyond the safety concerns, consumers could receive unwanted catalogs, promotions, and other information they never requested.
 
Google’s store stands alone. Google’s Play Store is the only major app store that shares your personal information with app makers when you purchase an app. The Windows Phone Store does not share personal information, including names, email addresses or other contact information, with 3rd-party app makers.
 
NEW GFK ROPER POLL: CONSUMERS ARE UNAWARE THEIR PRIVACY IS VIOLATED
 
A new public GfK Roper poll shows more than 9 in 10 Americans disapprove of app stores sharing personal information, such as a user’s full name, email address, and the neighborhood where they live, with the maker of the apps they purchase. Also, 87 percent of Americans are unaware that any major app store shares user’s personal information with the makers of the apps they purchase. GfK Roper is the lead polling firm for the AP. Full results from this survey (LINK).
 
HOW CONSUMERS CAN PROTECT THEIR PRIVACY

Don’t buy apps on Google’s app store, Google Play. You can download free apps from Google’s app store, Google Play, without having Google pass along your personal information to the app maker (but you’ll still need to beware of malware and other illegitimate activity on the Play ground).

Switch to a smartphone platform that prioritizes your privacy. Stop buying apps from Google’s app store, Google Play. You can switch to a smartphone platform like Windows Phone with the Windows Phone App Store.

Monitor your credit history, spam, and junk mail. Beware of any suspicious activity and report any suspected abuse of your personal information to Google at support.google.com.


For more information: www.scroogled.com

Attachment: Consumer Tip Sheet.pdf
Comments
  • I always look into anything like this and try to verify the claims. The only thing I see missing from this and the web site are any sources. I have read the prvacy policy for all of Google's services (it's the same policy across the board) and don't see anything any different than what I see when I take an online survey or sign up for any free online service. Also it looks like an ad for Microsoft.

  • Wow, you download an app and the owners get your name, email and area where you live, shocking.  Pretty sure you can google me and get the same info.

  • I want Google and their vendors to know about me. I am a customer. They need to know and respect me. The fact that the can email me or track me is no different than any other seller shop and if they can make a buck so be it.

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