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Wednesday
Aug122009

Our Palm Pre is sending User Data to Palm

According to Joey Hess, a Debian developer, our Palm Pre are periodically sending end-user data to Palm, such as your GPS location, time on an app and which app specifically, crash logs and full list of installed apps. This seems normal, in my opinion, even the GPS location part to some extent. I see it as info Palm needs to improve their services and the whole user experience, and free marketing research of course.

In Palm's Privacy Policy, they stated that your personal info/User Data may be shared with 3rd parties, but as long as they are affiliated with Palm.

"We may share, disclose, or transfer your personal information as follows:

  • To Palm affiliates and subsidiaries to support business operations and sales, marketing, and customer support processes;
  • To third party service providers and suppliers acting on our behalf to provide products or services
    to you; and
  • To other third parties for purposes you have allowed.

We may also disclose your personal information as we determine reasonably necessary to (a) comply with applicable law, regulations, legal processes, or enforceable governmental requests, (b) respond as necessary to an actual or potential lawsuit, or (c) protect the rights and property of Palm or others. We reserve the right to retain, use, and disclose aggregate or anonymous information developed from personal information at any time.

If we merge with, or are acquired by another company, or sell all or substantially all of our relevant assets, or file for bankruptcy, we may disclose and transfer personal information with" the company or asset. We will seek appropriate protection for personal information disclosed or transferred in such transactions consistent with applicable law."

We'll see what Palm's response to this.

[Thanks for the tip, Matt, via Slashdot]

Update: Palm's response, "Palm takes privacy very seriously, and offers users ways to turn data collecting services on and off. Our privacy policy is like many policies in the industry and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which we might use a customer's information, all toward a goal of offering a great user experience. For instance, when location based services are used, we collect their information to give them relevant local results in Google Maps. We appreciate the trust that users give us with their information, and have no intention to violate that trust."

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Reader Comments (6)

I don't own a Pre yet myself, but I noticed an interesting comment someone posted on Slashdot. Apparently, somewhere in the settings, there's an option that lets you disable the sending of GPS data. It claims that it's anonymously sent to Google to help improve location services. Whether that's what it's really used for or not, it seems to be a simple flip of the switch to turn it off.

Here's the link to the comment: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1334059&cid=29041293

And the full comment text, for those who don't feel like clicking through:

"The initial setup asks you how want to use your location information, and the "Location Services" app lets you change this at any time. I'm looking at the options under that app now, all of which can be switched off:

* Auto Locate: Your location will be automatically provided to applications that request it.
* Use GPS: Improves accuracy but can impact battery life
* Geotag Photos: Stores the GPS coordinates of your location when you use the camera
* Background Data Collection: Allows Google to automatically collect anonymouse location data to improve the quality of location services."

Based on that information, I'd say this whole thing is being blown way out of proportion. There's no evidence at all that suggests that Palm or Sprint are collecting or storing this data, or that it's linked to you in any way, or that it's being used in any way other than what they claim. No need to worry, in my opinion.

August 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill

@Bill

Great find. And I wholeheartedly agree.

August 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterPreThinking

I was pretty pissed off about this when I first heard about it. Scratch that, I'm still pretty pissed off about the fact that it's done without our knowledge or consent. The original article has good information on how to disable it, which I did. I later turned it back on as I think there is a greater chance I'll want Palm to have the data to track a stolen phone than I think someone will be using it against me, but still, I want to make that choice.

Also, I kinda doubt the "send Google data" preference option is part of this.

August 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Carson

Dont you think apple is doing the same thing on the Iphone.

August 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Tomerler

Whether Apple is spying on iPhone users or not, that doesn't make it okay for Palm to be just as evil. If they've buried some "ha, you can't sue us" language deep in the legalese, that still doesn't make it just, right, or proper.

If Palm wants to know what apps I'm using every day, it can damn well ask me. I'm extremely upset about this news.

August 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKai MacTane

Pre Palm is sends the user information that helps the Palm to serve useful information to the user. Same way Google and other services also collect the data when you are logged on. This is to serve better information which will be more useful to you.

The explanation by Palm wants to explain this.

August 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterreverse mortgage

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