Of Course They Do
It turns out that the messenger and dialer apps supplied by Google for Android are surreptitiously recording data and sending it back to the advertising and search giant without notifying its users or providing an opportunity to opt out.
I’m not surprised, but I am a bit disappointed.
Google’s Messages and Dialer apps for Android devices have been collecting and sending data to Google without specific notice and consent, and without offering the opportunity to opt-out, potentially in violation of Europe’s data protection law.
According to a research paper, “What Data Do The Google Dialer and Messages Apps On Android Send to Google?” [PDF], by Trinity College Dublin computer science professor Douglas Leith, Google Messages (for text messaging) and Google Dialer (for phone calls) have been sending data about user communications to the Google Play Services Clearcut logger service and to Google’s Firebase Analytics service.
“The data sent by Google Messages includes a hash of the message text, allowing linking of sender and receiver in a message exchange,” the paper says. “The data sent by Google Dialer includes the call time and duration, again allowing linking of the two handsets engaged in a phone call. Phone numbers are also sent to Google.”
The timing and duration of other user interactions with these apps has also been transmitted to Google. And Google offers no way to opt-out of this data collection.
If law enforcement were doing this, it would be called a, “Pen Register or Trap and Trace,” and it would require a court order, though not a search warrant as is required for a wire tap.
This sort of crap[ is not going to end unless and until Sundar Pichai is frog marched out of Google’s Mountain View offices in handcuffs.