Data Privacy Issues Lead to Google and Android Issues

google data privacy concerns

Google’s concern about drawing attention to itself during a heightened focus on data privacy has led to a shutdown of a service it gave to remote carriers. Across global markets, Google’s Mobile Network Insights prompted concerns that sharing data about wireless carriers from Android users might attract the scrutiny of both users and regulators.

Mapping carrier service

Google’s Mobile Network Insights service created a map showing carriers real-world signal strengths and connection speeds within a given area. Provided free to carriers and vendors, this information helped them manage operations using data from devices running Google’s Android operating system. This means a little more than 40 percent of the smartphones in the US alone were eligible to contribute data, transforming this service into a highly valuable piece of information.

Fighting over location data

Google isn’t the first company to feel wary about continuing a service that shares location data with third parties. The topic itself has become more visible in the last few years since it was discovered this practice was happening at all. Consumers feel very protective over this particular piece of data, and Google faces potential issues from the fact they track users even when the Location History feature is turned off.

Opting in isn’t always enough to keep data safe

To potentially remedy the issues they’re seeing, this Andriod-based service only captured data from users who opted into sharing their location history. Google didn’t share user demographics for application utilization, and rejected requests to provide equipment vendors with any of the information as per Ryne Hager from Android Police. Even more, the data was aggregated and not linked to any individual phone user. Aside from all of these security measures, Google still opted to shut down the service because of data privacy concerns.

Emerging concerns beyond privacy

Even with careful attention to anonymity, Google had other issues to worry about, linked to data, including the challenges of ensuring data quality and remedying the slow availability of connectivity upgrades based on incoming data. Ultimately the data wasn’t impacting wireless service at the speed to which it was hoped to do so. Google notified wireless carriers of the service shut down without providing a reason for why.

Becoming an unwieldy trend

Google’s decision isn’t the first time a company has decided to end a data-sharing service. The risk of a breach or further scrutiny from lawmakers is prevalent drivers in companies taking extra care, sometimes by discontinuing services, to protect data. According to Reuters, “U.S. and European lawmakers have stepped up their focus on how tech companies treat user data after a series of huge-scale data security disappointments …” This includes the improper sharing of data from 87 million users between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

With all this attention on data sharing, companies who continue services of this nature will have to tread carefully when supplying user data to other businesses. Even the risk of appearing to compromise data privacy can have ramifications.

Showing transparency in data sharing

One way to address this issue without having to shut down existing data sharing services is improved transparency. When data-sharing arrangements began, tech companies weren’t always clear on what data they collect and how it was shared with others. Even today, many aren’t explicit about this process. Google’s methodology for Android application users had them consent to share network connection quality data without referencing which specific remote carriers would get the data. Gaps in the process are putting consumers on edge, creating the worry that’s leading to more data-sharing services ending. Improved transparency can help repair the distrust between consumers and companies collecting their data.

Making a hard choice

Regardless of whether companies decide to cease certain data-sharing services or improve efforts at transparency, this hot topic of concern isn’t going away soon. For companies like Google, the data they were sharing, while beneficial to wireless carriers, wasn’t performing the way they’d hoped. Android users weren’t seeing the positive benefits of Google collecting this data fast enough. Coupled with the potential for risk that always accompanies data sharing from one organization to another, Google took the safe route to end services. It will be interesting to see what other companies in similar situations decide to do in the future.

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Rosina De Palma

Rosina De Palma is a business development executive at Aegis a reputed software development company in USA and India. I have a professional team, and they are always ready to help you and give the unique ideas and also give a bright future to your business through web development.