Home Android The missing context around Google’s Android privacy fallout

The missing context around Google’s Android privacy fallout


If you’ve read much tech news lately, you might be feeling a slight sense of shock right now.

A series of newly publicized documents related to an Arizona lawsuit reveals that Google’s had some complicated systems for collecting location data across Android over the years — and that, according to the info, the company at one point tried putting a catch-all location toggle into the software’s Quick Settings panel but saw a substantial increase in the number of users who took advantage of it with that more prominent positioning in place.

Google “viewed the large increase as a problem to be solved,” the documents say, and consequently removed the location toggle from Android’s Quick Settings panel on its own phones and “sought … to convince other manufacturers using Android to do the same on the basis of false and misleading information.”

Yamma hamma — that’s one greasy pancake to chew over. But hang on: Before you soil your britches and bury your phone in the nearest mountain of mustard, there are a few important points to consider here — points that play a significant role in this story and are largely getting lost amidst all the sensational headlines and eye-catching claims.

It’s not to say that any of these claims are good, by any means. Of course not! But in their current form, they’re lacking some critical context that paints a more nuanced and complete picture of the situation.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. The location toggle context

One of the more eyebrow-raising revelations in these materials is the part about Google removing that location toggle from Android’s Quick Settings because of how too many people were tapping it when it was front and center.

Here’s the interesting thing about that, though: Google didn’t actually remove that toggle. It’s still there.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.


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