After focussing its venom on Gmail for a considerable period of time, Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign has now turned its attention to the Google Play store. More to the point of warning users against downloading applications from Google’s application market. Scroogled claims that when you download an application from the Play store, Google shares your personal information with the app developer – your full name, your email address and even the location of your residence.
The actual text of the allegation is, “When you buy an Android app from the Google app store, they give the app maker your full name, email address and the neighborhood where you live. This occurs without clear warning every single time you buy an app. If you can't trust Google's app store, how can you trust them for anything?” Not only that, there is a full video which attempts to illustrate the case!
Microsoft did hand-pick a selection of quotes from various sources, who tend to verify Scroogled’s claims. "Google widely promises to protect users' private information. Google makes these promises equally in mobile. Having promised protection and delivered the opposite, Google should not be surprised to find users angry”, says Professor Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School on benedelman.org Feb.19, 2013.
To add to that, Professor Eric Clemons, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in the Huffington Post, Feb. 27, 2013 says, “Most consumers would not have assumed that violating their privacy was an essential feature of transactions on Google Play. If privacy violations are built into the design of Google Play, deliberately to enable snooping, accidentally because of incompetence, or for no reason at all, this is a violation of its customers' privacy. Since the systematic sharing of private information is not necessary to complete transactions, the fact that it was occurring should have been clearly declared in the Google Play statement of their Privacy Notice."
Now for the big guns. "But I remain concerned that Google does not provide notice to consumers at the time and in the context of their purchase. A short notice stating the types of personal information that Google shares with third parties and reasons for sharing would provide users with greater transparency. Unlike a broad statement buried in the Wallet Privacy Notice, a contextual approach might also prevent the consumer surprise and public alarm that predicated my letter." Apparently, from a letter written by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, to Google CEO Larry Page, Feb. 21, 2013.
We are not really sure how the Scroogled campaign is anything more than a typical smear campaign seen in American politics before an election. Only, this one just goes on and on, in a one-sided fashion. Scroogled’s prolonged attack on Gmail did not come even remotely close to stopping Gmail’s growth in its tracks. We are not really sure how the latest campaign against the Play Store would reduce download numbers anyway.