How do they set it up in Google to decide what new application to develop, with what design and functionality? Spying on the user, of course. To the user of Android, to be more exact. Or at least that is what a piece of information just published and whose origin would be the company itself, which has already responded officially to the accusations, points to.
The news is published by The Information and talks about ‘Android Lockbox‘, A supposed internal Google program with which the company’s employees could access supposedly confidential data – everything is assumed – about the use of applications by the user. And the reason would be no other than to study that use in order to develop alternatives with which to compete.
As is evident, if Google spies on the user to take advantage of the competition, the circle narrows to the extreme, and that is because Google has very little competition. It is logical, therefore, that this espionage, if it exists, focuses on applications such as Facebook or Instagram. Also mentioned is TikTok, the Chinese social network for mini-music videos on which Google relied to develop YouTube Shorts, as indicated in the news.
But Google would also have used and would be using Android Lockbox to keep an eye on the competition behind it, for example in the case of Gmail, the leading email service in its category.
As for the type of data that Google would be collecting, it is hardly specified, except that they would include the frequency with which certain applications are opened and for how long they are used. Furthermore, the same medium ensures that the data is anonymous and in no case do they allow the user to be identified, and that Google employees have to request an access permission that they do not always obtain.
In other words, the underlying issue on this topic does not revolve around privacy, but rather around unfair competition. With nuances.
Espionage, by the way, would take place through Google Mobile Services, one of the key components of Android for the company’s own software and on which, before using it, every user has accepted the conditions of use and even activated Android telemetry, which Google uses -as all developers do. world- to improve the user experience.
Thus, the accusation is based on the fact that Google does not use all this data only to “improve the user experience”, but also that it does it to compete in superior conditions. AND Google does not deny that you can access that data, although it does not say anything about what it uses them for. What the company maintains is that this data belongs to a program that is public and open to other application developers.
«Since 2014, the Android Application Usage Data API has been used by Google and Android developers who have been authorized by OEMs or Android users to access basic data on the use of applications, as the frequency with which they are opened, to analyze and improve services “, Google defends itself. “The API does not obtain any information about the activity in the application and our collection of this information is disclosed and controlled by the users.”
The problem is, always according to the published information, that for the developer to access the data, the user must have given permission and have their application installed … And here Google plays with infinite advantage, since few Android devices are in the world without Google applications installed. The nuance is that when Google refers to a public program, it is not talking about Android Lockbox.