Trinity research shows that Google collects a large amount of personal data through calls, text applications


Google plans to make changes to the Messages and Dialer apps after Trinity College Dublin researchers pointed to privacy concerns on Android phones.

The US tech giant assured Trinity researchers that it will make changes after a study led by Professor Doug Leith revealed how two apps transfer large amounts of user data to each other. Google.

The apps, used for calls and text messages, send information including phone numbers, timestamps and call durations to Google each time the two phones communicate.

Dialer and Messages also let Google know when a user is viewing an app screen, chatting via text message, or searching for their contacts, allowing Google to get a picture of consumers’ app usage over time. time.

The data is tagged with the handset’s Android ID, which is linked to the handset’s Google user account.

There is no opt-out of data collection.

The apps come pre-installed on more than a billion Android phones, according to Google, with the three major US networks recently announcing that they will use the Google Messages app.

“I am amazed to see such clearly sensitive data being collected by these Google apps. It’s not at all clear what the data is being used for and the lack of opt-out options is extremely worrying,” said Professor Leith.

“Hopefully our work will serve as a wake-up call to the public, politicians and data regulators. It’s really time for us to start taking meaningful action to provide people with complete information about the data left behind on their phones, insights into what it’s being used for and how important it is. Most importantly is the ability to opt out of this data collection”.

The research was carried out by Professor Leith and a team at Trinity’s CONNECT SFI Research Center for Future Networks on Covid contact tracing apps.

While the study found that Covid apps were “quite privacy-respecting” in general, the team discovered a “huge volume of data” sent to Google by their online store, Google Play, on Android phones, says Professor Leith.

Previous studies by Professor Leith’s team showed that the volume of data sent by Google Play Services to Google’s servers is 20 times larger than the volume sent by iPhones to Apple. Trinity research shows that Google collects a large amount of personal data through calls, text applications

Fry Electronics Team

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