Google continues to collect private data from your calls and messages without your permission

The immense amount of data that Google and other internet giants collect from their users, as well as the use they make of it, has been a matter of debate for the past few years. Although more privacy measures have been put in place and Google promised to end tracking, new studies reveal that they continue to store more information than they say they do and with no way for people to avoid it.

A report from Trinity College Dublin University notes that Google’s Messages and Phone apps, preinstalled on most Android phones, record phone numbers, time and other data when the user interacts with others. Neither the user is asked for permission nor can the feature be disabled.

Google has reacted to the report by promising to make multiple changes to both apps. They have confirmed this to the researchers with whom they have collaborated following their tip-off. However, we all know that this is just one more episode in which they are caught illegally collecting data and they promise to fix it but continue to leave open other cracks where only they know they are archiving information about your personal and professional life.

The study by Douglas Leith, a professor of Computer Information Systems in Dublin, reveals previously unknown data for most of the Messages AND Phone applications that most Android phones use to receive and send SMS or phone calls. They usually come preinstalled, being difficult to remove and as default tools for those functions.

This situation makes many users not consider using other applications to make calls, but they are also unaware of the data that Google is saving about them with their use. Every time a call is made, Google saves the numbers involved in the conversation, the duration of the call or the time and date of the call.

This data can be seen in the app itself and also serves as information to its user, data that is also collected by the operators. As for the messages, the application establishes a hash of the text for each message, which allows linking the sender and receiver of that exchange.

The report does not say that the company has access to the content of either calls or messages. The data stored would be similar to what other apps record such as WhatsApp and iMessage.

However, the problem lies in the fact that this information ends up on Google’s servers and the person is not asked permission for it, just as it is not possible to disable the recording of such data. “This study is therefore one of the first to shed light on the actual telemetry data sent by Google Play Services, which to date has been largely opaque,” the study concludes.

The company has responded to the researchers and other media that it plans to make multiple changes to these two apps and will continue to collaborate with the research. This is not the first time the company has been accused of lack of transparency and from Europe several countries have fined it for not having valid consent to collect data and personalize advertising. This could be the reason for the next fine.

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