I knew they tracked search. I knew they would use my voice usage to make it better. I didn't realize how pathological they were in tracking literally everything I did with my phone and tying it to my account, down to what apps I opened and when. It's creepy as hell.
It really made me want to just exit this whole smartphone shitfest, because I have to assume they're still tracking all this data, just not making it visible. Maybe Apple is better, maybe not. The problem is I can't know for sure, and if they lie - what could I do about it anyways?
I proceeded to disable the "Run in background" almost every application, kept only a handful that are really needed (e.g. Signal). Since then my battery lasts for 3 days, and my "Access Log" only moves minimally.
Can’t the app just buffer all that data (including time stamps) and just send it when you use it again?
Or is the app truly “turned off”?
There are OS battery optimisations which kick in eventually though, which result in most non system apps to be stopped automatically to save battery. Once again, they won't startup in the background again until being manually launched. This is my general understanding gained from working for a couple of years on an Android app that runs in the background and receives silent notifications.
I don't leave 'everything on default' in the power/background running settings, and thus I don't give the apps the option to do what the device decidsd. Plus with the firewall I Block all the nasties (e.g. 31.13.x.x - FB, or the various IPs for ads and tracking).
I'm a recent convert to iOS (I've used Android for 7+ years) and I find that it "phones home" a lot less than Android. You can easily run a Wireshark and confirm it yourself.
>Both Android and Chrome send data to Google even in the absence of any user interaction. Our experiments show that a dormant, stationary Android phone (with Chrome active in the background) communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period, or at an average of 14 data communications per hour. In fact, location information constituted 35% of all the data samples sent to Google. In contrast, a similar experiment showed that on an iOS Apple device with Safari (where neither Android nor Chrome were used), Google could not collect any appreciable data (location or otherwise) in the absence of a user interaction with the device.
>While using an iOS device, if a user decides to forgo the use of any Google product (i.e. no Android, no Chrome, no Google applications), and visits only non-Google webpages, the number of times data is communicated to Google servers still remains surprisingly high. This communication is driven purely by advertiser/publisher services. The number of times such Google services are called from an iOS device is similar to an Android device. In this experiment, the total magnitude of data communicated to Google servers from an iOS device is found to be approximately half of that from the Android device.
Apple spends something like 1 billion dollars a year on Apple Maps. There is no strategic reason for them to do maps. They aren't making money from it. They are anonymising the statistics they gather. They chose to spend this insane amount of money doing something completely foreign to them just so their customers don't have to use Google Maps.
Let that sink in.
As for the quality of Apple Maps—yes, it was rubbish when it first launched but today it is usually (depending on your city and your specific usages) within cooee of equally good. In fact I tend to find Apple Maps often superior for walking and public transport directions in an unfamiliar city.
They both spend lots of money on maps in the hope that users will use those maps on each corporations platform. The difference is Apple makes money selling the device and services, Google makes money selling your attention to advertisers.
The real driving force for Apple to spend that money was Google restricting features in their iOS app.
Also, it was leaked somewhere that Google was willing to give iOS all the features as long as Apple would allow all the user tracking. I can't speak to how reliable that is, but it wouldn't surprise me.
I don't need the best possible mapping application, I just (occasionally) need one that's "good enough". More and more, for me, "good enough" means keeping a static image of the maps of the area that I'll be in.
Pretty much all "no root firewalls" work the same way.. The software pretends to be a VPN client in order to get the network traffic and filter it.
Since you're letting the software have control over all your network traffic, make sure you trust the software manufacturer.
This is why I stick with root firewalls -- I also use a VPN, and I don't think you can have your Android device use more than one VPN at a time (without rooting it).
Google is the most invasive and predatory attack on privacy ever; by no small margin.
Can you prove this? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that's a real whopper of a claim.
I wonder how it is that they think Google rationalises providing so many free or below cost products to consumers?
Edit: downvoted without response. K.
> it's literally what google claim to do
It's literally the opposite of what Google claims to do.
> they sell their ability to know everything about you to anyone willing to pay for that information
This does not actually claim they will sell you a copy of the raw data. That is Google’s “crown jewels” and they protect it fairly well, although not always perfectly.
In the past you could see the query on a referral URL. In the past you could see PII coming through this way as well. You could target ads against this PII, etc.
But anyway, what Google does is let you target ads based on their absolute knowledge of the user. What you are Searching for, where you are Searching for it, etc.
Google tracks you incensently so that they can more effectively sell things to you, or sell others the ability to sell things to you.
But increasingly it seems that Google tracks its users just because it can. Just in case that clickstream or that app history or that voice recording might become useful someday. Google tracks you like a paranoid government might track its citizens, afraid that some scrap of data might come back one day to be useful in its almighty question for [control / dollars / training an AI / optimization / whatever].
The nominal cost of storing one more piece of metadata is zero, the potential future value seemingly limitless, and perhaps the fear of Management asking for some piece of data you didn’t think to record is so great, they seem to just record all the things.
That's fair. That was my misreading of their original comment. I'm so used to seeing this misinformation I took it as just another example.
>But anyway, what Google does is let you target ads based on their absolute knowledge of the user.
That's right. The page I linked from Google is actually very transparent about how it works.
Which means what?
If you aren't actually getting user information, then simply put you aren't buying user information. Anything else is twisting words to distort their meanings.
Google has information about you. Incredibly detailed, intimate information about you. Harvested by collecting and correlating all of your usage of their products and services.
Anyone can pay Google to use that knowledge in pursuit of other services, like targeted ads. No, you do not get access to that knowledge directly, but Google has it and is using it when paid to do so.
In effect, you can pay Google to have indirect use of that knowledge.
And to anyone who says “I have nothing to hide” — imagine your worst enemy having all this information about you easily searchable with the intention to weaponize it for their purpose.
To anyone saying that, they need to stop quoting Nazi propaganda. Term is coined by (but not originating from) Goebbels.
Note: The origin is from a fictional dystopia.
The phrase is too frequently used by societies that we consider to not be free, being pervasive enough that a single use in literature would tell you that the characters live in an oppressive regime. Yet somehow we can make that connection but don't make it when actual politicians and citizens repeat it.
Personally I feel sickened that the phrase is so pervasive in our society (goes beyond the US). Just as I'd be if people were constantly saying "Work will set you free."
We will have to use punishment as deterrent for someone who is harming other with all of this information.
Yes, this is why I've decided to bail on the smartphone nonsense as well.
To make the problem worse, it isn't just Google you need to protect yourself from. You also need to protect yourself from the vast majority of apps that are out there as well.
It's become an intractable security nightmare, and I no longer consider smartphones as fit for purpose.
What stands out to me about the movie (because I went and fished out my DVD and decided to watch it this fine afternoon) was just how detailed David Marconi was in his depiction of brotherly tracking and surveillance.
Edit: attribution for the plot goes to writer David Marconi, I've fixed this for any fellow movie geeks who also care about such things ;)
Watching “Enemy of the State,” it is quite clear that Hackman’s character is a nod at The Conversation’s Harry Caul. He plays an ex-spook who is extremely paranoid about surveillance, which is the exact state Caul gets into at the end of The Conversation!
Just with data we're crossing what seems like a lot of "too late" moments.
While I agree some autocracies resemble Orwell's 1984, I hardly think western states fit the description. The powers undermining Western Democracies are a complex mix of corporate/state sponsored media, surveillance capitalism, and other more mundane forms of corruption and collusion. The fact that I can state these things without fear speaks volumes about the opposition to autocratic and anti-liberal forces. Bradbury's distraction based autocracy is a lot more interesting because it beats you over the head with a different type of control that in smaller doses could be used to disuade or control in a less Autocratic society.
I found that this Wikipedia article is a great little read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_tracking
Important to keep in mind that additional information provides corroboration at least in the mind of the jury and also detracts from issues regarding the information.
This is illustrated by one of those Datelines' (or 48 Hours don't remember) that I saw recently. They exhumed a body to determine if the deceased was buried with contact lenses on. They then had some expert do tests with pigs to determine that it was really a contact lens and not something else. It was very clear right off that it was (anyone who has worn contacts would know this and additionally they even were marked with numbers on the lens). But the expert still went to this long and drawn out trouble (buried dead pig's eyes with lense on) that they clearly didn't have to do. Reason? You spend more time in front of the jury with a long story and it detracts from the problems with the story to begin with (someone iirc said 'she never goes to bed with contact lenses').
Similar and unrelated is restaurant food. Put a lot of vegtables on the plate and a fancy sauce swirl to detract from the small piece of meat or fish you have given the diner.
That depends a lot on where you live, and what quality of veggies and meat you're talking about.
What's cheap is cereals.
>"But despite the drawbacks, detectives noted how precise the data was and how it was collected even when people weren’t making calls or using apps — both improvements over tracking that relies on cell towers."
Take a young person with an iPhone. Their 95 year old grandparents might not have a single piece of technology from 1990 onwards but because their grandson has their phone number, address, and birthday in his iPhone those people could potentially be vulnerable to tracking/snooping/violations of privacy.
Never underestimate this https://xkcd.com/538/ attack.
OK, so the feds were closing in on DPR. They knew that he had everything on his laptop, and that it was full-disk encrypted. One faction wanted to catch him in his room at home, by somehow doing a SWAT from a helicopter.
But cooler heads prevailed. They just tailed him for a few days. So he sits down in the public library, and starts working. Two agents pretend to be a couple having a screaming match. While he's distracted, another agent grabs his laptop.
Game over, and life in prison.
I would guess that there is already substantial research done on exactly this, and that it is possible to detect many deviations of normal behaviour.
Plus I only see face recognition (and CCTV quality) getting better over time. Unfortunately.
Google does publish a bit how they handle data requests.
There was an article a couple months ago about reverse location search warrants.
But the so called justice system says that it got it right here. The innocent man lost his job when he couldn’t work for a week. Depending on his situation he could miss rent and be evicted too.
Why do we have a system that says justice was served? It’s cruel and unfair.
This dragnet police tactic will scoop up more bystanders and probably convict more than a few innocents as well. I like the timeline feature- it has been genuinely helpful for remembering when I did things months ago. The tie in with photos is also a fun way to remember trips. It’s sad that the cost of these features is to roll the dice on getting arrested because a crime was committed nearby.
1. Honoring the plain text, and original intent of the Constitution
2. Holding law enforcement personally liable for their mistakes (i.e ending immunity)
3. Ending the rubber stamp warrant process where law enforcement routinely lies to obtain warrents
4. Ending the moronic 3rd party doctrine exemption to the 4th amendment
What I do not think it s a resolution is putting the tax payers on the hook for monetary compensation for the bad actions of law enforcement, that provides zero incentive for law enforcement to change their aggressive, unconstitutional, and authoritarian methods, policies and procedures
Suggest specific improvements and call them into your representatives. The closer you can make your proposals to a bill, the more likely it is that the problem becomes an issue.
In this case, I’d argue we need publicly-subsidised attorneys for wrongful arrest. It should also be unlawful to dismiss an employee because they were arrested and never indicted. Giving people the right to notify employers, upon arrest, barring a specific request by the police (approved by a court), would also be prudent.
This would be huge. It's illegal to fire someone because they got called up on jury duty, and if someone is arrested but later found innocent the same rules should apply: in both cases you're involuntarily assisting the criminal justice system :)
Replace "indicted" with "convicted" and I agree. Further, it should by unlawful to refuse you housing because you were arrested even if you weren't convicted (this is common practice right now).
The most famous in recent memory is the 2014 Study "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" (https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592714001595)
"In the United States, indicate, the majority does not rule at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose ... majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts."
The totals for how many voters expressed which opinions are what carries the most sway with them. Whether or not those tallies are in alignment with the general public is not relevant.
So, when you contact them, you'll get a canned response telling you what their current stance is, regardless of whether that's the same as yours. But make no mistake, your opinion was added to the count.
This sort of thing is why phone banks and contact-your-representative campaigns are so common. In bulk, they're effective and can change policy even in ways that most of their constituents don't agree with. They're only looking at the numbers of contacts they've received.
> Whether or not those tallies are in alignment with the general public is not relevant.
Is this not grossly pathological?
The silver lining in that cloud is that it means that expressing your opinion to your representative is something that really does make a difference. On a practical level, if you don't tell them, they won't know.
Why not ask your lawyer to do it for you? You already have the right to make a call to a lawyer.
I disagree. The cost of bad policing shouldn't be paid for by businesses. The police should bear the consequences, not have yet another victim (some business) to burden with more punishment.
But arresting someone reasonably suspected of some crime isn't bad policing, even if they are later found to be innocent. That is why arrest and trial are separate.
There's a LOT of good cops, lawyers, judges, etc. However, the bad ones can have such devastating effects on their victims, that all of them need to be watched (controlled? not sure what the right word is here) more than would be necessary for other areas.
However, I agree that if that should happen, the detained should be compensated for the harm they suffered, even if the police (and prosecutors!) acted reasonably.
I should clarify that I don't mean to imply the US police and public prosecutors meet these reasonablenes criteria - from what I hear, the deck is stacked heavily against anyone being prosecuted for a felony, guilty or not.
But I don't see how preventing companies from being able to fire people solely because of an arrest actually costs them anything.
When, in the history of ever (in America), have the police borne the consequences for anything? It's always been either the taxpayer (in pay-outs) or no one (when the officer simply moves to another jurisdiction to keep on keeping on). Although, the premise is idyllic, it would never happen.
Fix the judicial system itself, don't offload that responsibility onto businesses. If arresting a person is so easy as to be able to ruin their life (and I agree that it is), there should be a higher bar to arresting people than < says here his phone was near the scene of the crime >.
If a system is conceived in which a business is able to fire and quickly rehire someone who was wronged by the police, I am supportive of that. But some general idea of, "Well let's just make it illegal for businesses to do that!" is beyond absurd. It's papering over a problem caused by another problem. Businesses are not responsible for fixing a problem caused by the police. This would be as absurd as a business suing the government for failing to prevent a valuable employee from being murdered.
How does that count as "businesses paying for bad policing"?
It's insane that it's legal for an employer to fire someone for being arrested, before being convicted.
The same protection should apply in any case where the government is the one forcibly removing you from being present at your workplace through no wrongdoing of your own.
Imagine if the person wrongly imprisoned in jail has a kid or parent to care for, not only is that dependent abandoned for a week but afterward there's no money to feed them with. It's truly inhumane.
Because it was. There was a criminal investigation, it was processed judiciously, and as a result the man was cleared and released. None of this was based upon a _single_ piece of evidence, but multiple facts that supported each other.
The only "injustice" I can detect is that he wasn't bailed out while waiting for a trial.. but the article suspiciously doesn't touch on that subject, so I have nothing to go on there.
> It’s cruel and unfair.
If he has a civil issue with his employer or with the state or it's officers, then that's a separate question and he absolutely has the right to pursue it for remedy if he chooses.
> This dragnet police tactic will scoop up more bystanders and probably convict more than a few innocents as well.
You make it sound as if the police _only_ used location data to make this case and the arrest. The article shows that they didn't and further shows that the actual murderer had used Mr Molina's car to commit the murder. It's nothing like what you describe.
How do these cases usually work out? If he was held on a reasonable suspicion, is there any possibility of legal remedy?
 "it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer" (Franklin's rephrasing)
I'm not defending Google's information collection or the use of dragnets in general, but this is absolutely the wrong case to use as an example of how things can go wrong. Things did not go wrong here. This was good police work, and ultimately the arrest was not off-base, and led directly to the real perpetrator.
Find a better example if you want to drum up fear about information abuse.
>But despite the drawbacks, detectives noted how precise the data was and how it was collected even when people weren’t making calls or using apps — both improvements over tracking that relies on cell towers.
So if you use Android, there's absolutely no way to turn this type of tracking off? What exactly are they using? Anyone know? This doesn't seem like the IEMI cell tower tracking that carriers do.
And according to this sentence:
>Apple said it did not have the ability to perform those searches.
It appears that if you use iPhone and don't use Google's apps (Google Maps is the main culprit here?), Apple doesn't have a way of identifying your data and your data won't appear in Google's Sensorvault.. which appears to be massive:
>Sensorvault, according to Google employees, includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.
 - https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3118687?hl=en
If you have an android phone, please try turning off the location service and see what happens.
The sheer number of dark patterns google uses to get you to turn it back on is illuminating.
I remember in the early versions of android, you could turn on/off the gps from the lock screen. Then one day it went away and was only available once the phone was unlocked. Now it's hidden inside the settings app. The cynic in me guesses that a future update will turn that option off as well.
I can unlock my phone (probably already unlocked anyways), swipe down the status bar and tap an icon to disable location services.
The first time I get a pop up that apps won't be able to use my location and that's it. It won't ask again, and it's a matter of 2 seconds.
It would have much richer granularity than cell tower tracking. Cell towers can be miles apart. Google location services use GPS, cell towers, and the wireless access points around you to pinpoint.
(For example when I worked in an urban office it could tell which side of the building I was at when looking at directions)
I think it did a good job of hypothetically showing how phone data could be collected in a geofence and explaining the process of narrowing it down and picking a potential subject. Regardless of the merit of this approach, I think NYT did a great job here of illustrating the process in a way that non-technical people could understand.
It sucks that this innocent person ended up suffering. Hopefully law enforcement will become better at figuring out false positives before arresting someone.
I do like that the gov. doesn't have direct access. Seems to me like the more independent parties required to access the data, the lower the chances of abuse.
Well not really. If that were the case and if someone was going to commit a crime they could simply place their phone in someone else's auto (let's say without them even knowing) and then have that data be the data that is 'them'. This would quickly unravel. Besides I don't think it's so much that the data is useful other than it gives clues and points in a particular direction whereby the police can then narrow down or look further into a particular suspect.
I can retain receipts from gas stations, getting a soda at the corner store, etc without needing to beam my realtime location data to the cloud.
I also always use a credit card for any transaction which gives another 'I was there' proof point.
Really, the issue here was the car, without which they wouldn't have had enough evidence to get the person's information in the first place. Are you not partly responsible to whom you give your car to?
If this is how it really happened then the investigators didn't even bother to crosscheck the data with the cell tower information (assuming the telco logs this info). Sending false location data to google shouldn't be that hard, but it should be a lot harder to fake the cell tower connections.
I am not sure if the details of the zero hours contract of the person hired by the mega-corp the government outsourced the provisioning of room 101 rats to would have helped with the story.
During WW2 the government in the UK did a fair bit of outsourcing. In fact, it was only with the post WW2 Labour government that major parts of the UK economy were nationalised. He did write about the duties of children to report thoughtcrime, I am sure that if he had over-added details about corporations instead of keeping it simple then the subtle details of how it is would not have been beyond Orwell.
I remember it being reported the same time as the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out (literally the same week IIRC) and getting almost no notice, despite being, in my mind, a story with far greater implications about our privacy.
All it does is send the data with additional flag saying that the data shouldn't be displayed to the end user.
Problem is that you can't turn it off.
But before I go further on the social commentary, can we confirm that the arrest at work was the reason he lost his job, the week of being in jail being the reason he lost his job, performance due to the arrest being the reason?
I manually disabled all the data collection on my Google account (search and location history).
Is Google still tracking my location? Would I still appear in that database?
I'm pretty much Google-free at this point except for some spam emails and the need for a google account for Android Play.
>Investigators who spoke with The New York Times said they had not sent geofence warrants to companies other than Google, and Apple said it did not have the ability to perform those searches.
(I tried using a custom search operator but can't find any mentions of "sensorvault" prior to the NYT article).
I'm curious if you're included if you search in private browsing mode, or use the Goole Maps iOS application but haven't signed into it.
Google might be just the latest addition. Or maybe the traditional media has declared outright war on internet companies in retaliation for taking their ad and subscriber revenue.
And don’t use any vehicle with a license plate that can be tracked to you, or the area around your house.
All that effort is better focused on committing legal white collar crimes, via plausible deniability and in person conversations that aren’t recorded.
We've got about 5 minutes before "in person conversations that aren't recorded" are a historical artifact.
And don't use any vehicle which has navigation system or live traffic info screen.
Should be perfectly legal to demonstrate but if you’ve got you’re phone on you someone will know you were there and protesting for X.
That’s very valuable information not just for law enforcement but also for marketing/advertising and also for more scummy stuff like influencing your political choices (eg Cambride Analytica style).
I don’t have my phone on my when I attend events that could “leak” my political or ethical choices.
Leave your phone at home, use a burner phone (and don't reuse it!), don't call any personal phone numbers,, don't use your normal accounts, don't blab on social media, and so on and so forth.
Basic stuff, but sometimes people do get careless.
If so it would be easy to just request reports from companies and compile them to some friendlier format.