It seems Palm has decided that they are OK with being slimy about undisclosed privacy and user tracking. Give a chance to comment on the recent expose about detailed user tracking buried inside the Palm Pre, they tell us (paraphrasing) “everybody does it” and “we’re happy our users trust us”.
MobileCrunch re-highlighted this news from a CNET article, but goes easy on Palm, while exposing how they track users location, what applications they have been using, what applications they have installed on the Pre (including those not authorized by Palm), and other personal data unique to the user’s Palm Pre. If you read the article literally, it is almost as if they had been threatened by Palm and were treading lightly.. exposing but being careful to not openly suggest the Palm Pre was a privacy-invading abuse of consumers.
The Economist wrote about cell phone tracking, and location-based services do indeed need to report back location in order to deliver maps, directions, etc. But they don’t need to report back all that other personal data that Palm is collecting from Palm Pre users. According to the MobileCrunch article:
When it comes to location tracking and device activity, you must alert the user and specifically request permission. If you don’t, you are spying, plain and simple. Regardless of what Palm is doing with this data, the user needs to be completely aware that it is being sent.
Palm seems to disagree. See this excerpt from Palm response (emphasis added):
They have no intention to violate your trust! How re-assuring, no? How about if a vendor asked you for your social security number and mother’s maiden name, and assured you they had no intention of violating your trust?
I have a follow up question for Palm. One day, when a Junior Marketing Executive at Palm gets a brilliant idea to exploit some of that juicy data, will Palm notify me of their new intent to violate my trust? I know they don’t have to, that’s the whole point.