Google Play's Privacy Policies Assailed by Software Developer

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-02-14 Print this article Print

In an email reply, a Google spokesman told eWEEK that "Google Wallet shares the information needed to process transactions, and this is clearly stated in the Google Wallet Privacy Notice."

Alan Webber, an analyst who covers digital risk at The Altimeter Group, told eWEEK that the fast-changing world of online sales and interaction, coupled with changing technologies, makes it hard for companies like Google to keep up with privacy policies. And many users of online services don't even read the privacy policies of online vendors with whom they do business, he said.

"Everybody likes all the free stuff that's out there," Webber said. "And the fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a free ride. The payment you are making is the data you give up to use that free service."

What consumers need to decide for themselves, he said, is whether the information they have to give up is too much in their own minds. "Personally, I wouldn't do it because I think it's giving up too much personal information, but for somebody else, it might not be giving up too much information."

Webber said he thinks the reason Google collects more user information than other companies, such as the Apple Store, is that Google's prime business is advertising and marketing and that's where it makes its money. In comparison, Apple's business model is to sell apps and hardware, which doesn't require the collection of so much information.

"Apple can afford a much more restrictive approach on collecting private information than Google can," said Webber. "They have other revenue streams. I don't think that it's an oversight. Let's just be honest here. Google just doesn't see the need to do this yet."

Justin Brookman, director of consumer privacy for the Center for Democracy and Technology, said Google could help itself by making such policies more transparent to users on an everyday basis.

"This is not necessarily nefarious" policy, Brookman told eWEEK. "But it could be messaged better. They could be clearer about it."

Online users should have good privacy so that they know their online activities aren't being tracked, he said. "I don't want every Website that I use to know my name. If they were doing that, I would be concerned. The fact that they collect it for [the] legitimate reason to give [it] to the developer, I think that's fine. They should make sure that people understand that better, though."


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