A new study by researchers at Trinity College in Ireland claims Android devices send 20 times more personal data to Google than iPhones send to Apple. Even when the phone is first taken out of the box and activated.
According to a report by arsTechnica, Google disputes the results of the study, stating the conclusion was due to “faulty methods for measuring the data that’s collected by each OS.”
Collecting and sending personal data recorded by smartphones is nothing we should be surprised about. Most devices that connect to a network will send some data back to the company that developed it along with other partner companies.
Seeing what Google has learned about you is a bit shocking though. To see what data Google knows about you, go to www.myactivity.google.com. Among the many items collected are web searches, YouTube videos you’ve watched, places you’ve visited, and things you’re interested in such as hobbies and what you eat.
Going to that website you may have to enter your Google password. Once you’re in, you’ll see every website you’ve ever visited since first signing up for a Google account (unless you’ve previously deleted the history). Take a look and you may find that Google knows where you were vacationing 20 years ago. You may see a reminder that in 2013 you watched the Rebecca Black “It’s Friday” video over and over again on YouTube. You may see that Google tracked you to your favorite coffee shop 6 years ago and a visit to your dentist in 2011. You may quickly see that Google knows more about you than just about anyone in the world.
You can delete all of that history or change a setting so Google automatically deletes your activity after 3 months. You can also turn off what Google has learned about you for purposes of advertising. You’ll still see advertisements but they’ll probably be for things you have no interest in seeing.
Of course, Apple and Facebook collect information about you from what you do with and on your smartphone. It’s the price we have to pay for the ability to carry a pocket-sized computer with us everywhere we go.