Study shows Google collects data even when phones aren't being used

Study shows Google collects data even when phones aren't being used
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It’s almost impossible to avoid Google’s expansive data collection on the internet, according to a new study published on Tuesday.


University of Vanderbilt computer science professor Douglas Schmidt found that an idle Google Android smartphone with an open Chrome web browser passes data to a Google server 14 times an hour.

Even when a user isn’t on Google’s phone or web browser, its vast ad network still makes it hard to dodge data collection and remain anonymous, Schmidt notes.

“A major part of Google’s data collection occurs while a user is not directly engaged with any of its products,” he wrote. “And while such information is typically collected without identifying a unique user, Google distinctively possesses the ability to utilize data collected from other sources to de-anonymize such a collection.”

The study was commissioned by Digital Content Next, a lobbying group representing digital media publishers, who have been critical of Google and other major technology platforms such as Facebook.

Google dismissed the study in a statement to The Washington Post.

“This report is commissioned by a professional DC lobbyist group, and written by a witness for Oracle in their ongoing copyright litigation with Google. So, it’s no surprise that it contains wildly misleading information,” the company said.

The report’s findings follow an investigation conducted by the AP and Princeton researchers, which found that Google often tracked the movements of users even when they opted out of disabled location settings.

Google initially disputed this characterization of its location tracking before saying that it would clarify its location data policies.