Will Palm Know What You Did Last Summer?

by PalmWebOS.org on August 13th, 2009

If you’ve got a Palm Pre and you’re all about your privacy you may have reason for concern – according to Joey Hess there are E.T. Phone Home features hidden deep inside the WebOS code that can give the company access to crucial information for data mining such as:

  • Location
  • App usage and history
  • App crash and failure logs
  • What apps you have installed

last-summerThe Terms, Conditions and Privacy Policy written into your contract/agreement supposedly legally allow this type of location data collection information and that is EXACTLY what has some people worried – that Palm knows where they are and when, logging this information for use how ever they see fit in the future.

Palm has just officially responded to the outcry against this uncovered capability:

“Palm takes privacy very seriously, and offers users ways to turn data collecting services on and off. Our privacy policy is like many policies in the industry and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which we might use a customer’s information, all toward a goal of offering a great user experience. For instance, when location based services are used, we collect their information to give them relevant local results in Google Maps. We appreciate the trust that users give us with their information, and have no intention to violate that trust.”

My heart is warmed… but I’m not 100% convinced. They suggest you can turn off these data collection services but doing so would likely break much of the WebOS functionality in terms of location based services. What I would want to hear is that although they are utilizing your location, they are never storing/saving the data to their servers! After they know where we are and have provided the intended service/experience/functionality, why would they still need to keep a record of our whereabouts and whenabouts?

THAT is what I would like Palm to comment on. The app usage/history/installs don’t bother me at all – Android users would know that developers can see how many users have their app installed via the developer dashboard at Android.com. Obviously Google is collecting the same kind of information, how come nobody has complained there?

I think a chill pill is seriously needed here but Palm still has some explaining to do. How long does Palm KEEP the data they collect in regard to user/location/time? That is the unanswered question that I feel needs to be answered.

2 Comments

  1. 1. Anonymous wrote on August 13, 2009

    I’m pretty sure Google just keeps track of the number of downloads from the market place, while the Pre checks for all your apps and sends the list to palm, meaning if you install a homebrew app that would void your warranty, Palm will still know you did it even if you manage to clear all traces of it on the Pre yourself.

    Also does it only report information when your using your Pre and not when it’s just in your pocket? because wouldn’t this only drain battery faster and be useless since Palm claims they use it to improve user experience, such as when searching Google maps.

  2. 2. Wait For Palm Pre On-Screen Keyboard Almost Over | Palm WebOS wrote on August 14, 2009

    […] Of course if you want to install it you’ll have to do so at your own risk… and whether you like it or not, Palm might know what you did. […]

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