What happened, exactly?
Joey Hess had a very close look at what the operating system on his Pre was actually doing. He discovered that every day it was sending information back to Palm – information that looked very much like his current GPS co-ordinates, along with a usage log of every app he had used that day.
Once this information got out into the world at large, people immediately got very upset over the fact that Palm was “spying” on them.
Is that legal?
However, as Joey Hess shows, you really need to know how to re-code parts of WebOS in order to do this. So it’s not really openly available to the public at large.
What we think?
It’s hard to know how to respond to this story. On one hand, of course Palm is collecting information about you. Operators collect info about you when you use operator services, and manufacturers collect info about when you use their services. Advertisers collect information about you for metrics. Every time you run a search, someone traces you. You may not like it, but it’s something you agree to whenever you tick the Terms & Conditions box. On the other hand, people are understandably upset because their phones are telling Palm where they are and what they’re doing – without asking them first. At no point did Palm specifically say “by the way, once per day we’ll update your location on our files and we also know every app you download and how often you use it.” And that’s bound to annoy people.
Also, I’d like to reproduce two user comments about this story:
Any other locked down handset may do the same thing, but the user will not have the opportunity to investigate sans a jailbreak or some other circumvention.
Sprint already has a log of my gps track whenever I use google maps or sprint nav. Sprint already has a log of every email address I get email from or to… every phone number I get or make a call to… every sms message I get or make… a log of every cell tower I ping into… the ability to read every email I send or receive. What, exactly, is it that I’m risking in terms of my privacy that palm gets crash logs and usage time of apps again? Yawn. Who cares?
I think these are both excellent points. You think Apple doesn’t know what you’re doing with your iPhone? Of course they do, it’s just that iPhone OS doesn’t provide you the opportunity to find out about it.
And if you don’t want your location or any other personal information to be known by your digital service providers, I think you might find this video useful.