Consumers should be in charge of their data

4249731778_c071fcb365_oThe latest Google privacy debacle comes courtesy of Dan Nolan, an Australian app-developer,who has found he’s being sent personal information – without users ever giving permission for him to have it.

Dan spotted the issue when he logged into his ‘merchant’ section of his Google Play account and saw how for every customer who bought the app on Google play, he knew exactly who. “If you bought the app on Google Play (even if you cancelled the order) I have your email address, your suburb, and in many instances your full name.”

This is a relatively simple situation. You give your personal information to the Google App store, and Google – without explicitly asking you – hands it over to the developer of the app.  There’s no explicit notification, no request to transmit the data.

As Dan highlights, “with the information I have available to me through the checkout portal I could track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase.”

The basic problem facing consumers is time and time again decisions about what happens with their data are taken without their knowledge and the true facts about what is happening is buried in vague privacy policies.

Apps are an increasing part of everyday life, so it’s essential that it is made crystal clear to consumers what happens to their data. App developers aren’t asking for this data, no other app stores share data in this way, so yet again we’re faced with a situation where it looks like Google has put profits before user privacy.

Consumers could be asked for their permission if the data is required, but it’s wholly wrong for Google to take control of our data away from people like this.