New Study Shows Google Android Phones Collecting Even More Data Than Previously Believed

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Google is perhaps the most ubiquitous place to find information. The name of the company is also a verb, and users trust the search engine to kick back the most relevant results for any query. But while Google is a great place to search for information, some users are concerned about what kind of information the corporation is gathering.

CNET reports recent study findings that show the company is collecting a lot of data via its Android phones, a charge Google denies. The study was released today, and findings show that Google is collecting data on people who use its servers, including music choices and routes they take throughout the day. A lot of the information is being “inferred” via passive means — meaning this information is shared even when users are not actively using features like location sharing, among other things.

A watch like this shown at the recent Developers Convention may share passive location data.Featured image credit: Stephen LamGetty Images

Data from users of the Chrome browser is also shared, and apparently even a dormant phone running the Chrome browser shared location data and other information hundreds of times in just one day. The study was conducted by Douglas J. Schmidt, a Vanderbilt professor, and was commissioned by Digital Content Next. Digital Content Next is a lobbying group representing the interests of digital publishers, for example, artists who release the songs you might listen to using your Google device.

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

Google, as evidenced in their formal statement, is denying the claims put forth in the study quite aggressively. The search giant is also currently embroiled in a legal battle with fellow tech behemoth Oracle over the use of Java software in Android phones.

The study also highlighted the potential fact that Google could associate ostensibly anonymous data with user accounts through their proprietary advertising tools. This is not the first time Google has been accused of overextending their digital reach. The company was recently under fire from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and an Associated Press report found that location services on both iPhones and Android devices shared data even when users specifically opt out of location sharing in their settings.

Google is facing a lawsuit over that issue on top of the other legal battles they’re involved in.