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Thursday, April 13, 2017

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Chanson de Roland

The first thing that I say is that leaks is the wrong word. This is not leaking, which connotes an accidental or at least unintended occurrence. What is happening among these apps is intentional collusion to misappropriate a user's personal information without consent, so what these apps are colluding to do is steal a user's personal information, that is, steal the information which a user creates from his online activities. So what we have here is theft, not leakage.

What can the federal government do about this? It depends. First, Congress is at fault, because despite repeated requests from the FTC, it has refused to empower the FTC to promulgate rules that can protect consumers' privacy in the marketplace for goods and services, including but not limited to apps. Yet the FTC may be able to act. Because this theft of personal information is intentional and is done without consent or even notice, the FTC can prohibit this coordinated theft as a deceptive trade practice and/or a privacy violation because it occurs without any assent to the terms of an agreement.

What will the FTC do under the Trump Administration with a majority of three Republican commissioners? I suspect that the answer is not much, even though this collection of user's/consumers' personal info without consent, that is, this theft, violates well established precedents.

George

Readers:

Below is the list of questions I have submitted to Google:

1. Who are the developers of the leaky Android apps?
2. Are any developers responsible for multiple leaky apps? If so, please provide names.
3. Do these leaky apps dominate particular types (e.g., mobile banking, Android Pay)
4. If Google does not know who these developers are, what are you doing to identify and contact them?
5. What action will Google take with these apps and developers? If these apps won’t be removed from your app store, please describe other action.
6. On Apple iOS, the user has to give an app permission to collect data from other apps. Why isn’t Android doing this? Does Pixel fix the security problem?
7. If you are are changing the way Android apps allow permissions for #6, when will this be available?

If I receive a reply, I will post it on my blog.

George
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