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Google’s controversial data collection method comes under scrutiny

by Kristen Nicole

The public eye’s been turned to Android security in recent months, but it’s nothing new for Google. The matter of data collection and privacy standards has been re-visited with the Wall Street Journal’s latest expose, revealing Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) partaking in controversial methods of gathering consumer information. The Journal points out Google’s differentiated method of data collection, saying that location data appears to be transmitted regardless of whether an app is running.

Android safety matters

Android’s safety has been questioned tirelessly as of late, but the discussion around Google’s data collection methods isn’t a new one. Google found itself defending the Street Views initiative, which collected hyper-local photo and Wi-Fi data. The proliferation of Internet-capable phones has greatly increased the opportunities and use cases for Google to collect and calculate data.

While Google uses this data for things like traffic maps, street-level map views and local search recommendations, the true power behind this data is for advertising. The mobile web is branching through smartphone apps, offering up rather precise information on a consumer’s locale. The more relevant Google can make its ads, the more valuable these ads will be. As with its PC web presence, Google will have to face legal jurisdictions as it sets out to replicate its monetization standards on the mobile frontier.

Facebook, Army leverage Android

Facebook is another super-power bent on monetizing mobile connections, these being of a social nature. Some additional social functions have been added to Facebook’s Android app, including the ability to tag friends in status updates. You can also search for friends in your contacts, and add your phone number to your profile.

Just days after The White House released an Android app, we learn of the U.S. Army utilizing Android’s OS for tactile operations. The Army has created its own version of Android, called “Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment,” which powers some of their mobile devices, used for mapping, blue force tracking, reporting and critical messaging. Though the OS is “significantly modified” for Army purposes, as reported by CNET, the validation from U.S. troops is a boost for Android.