back to article Tim? Larry? We need to talk about smartphones and privacy

Oracle’s busy backgrounding about Android privacy last year appears to have helped draw US lawmakers' attention to Google and Apple. Members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee have jumped on a report by Quartz’s Keith Collins from November 2017 as the basis of letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Larry …

  1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Hi other Larry

    Tell us about your 2013 purchase of Responsys Inc and what personal information may have been illegally placed into high volume marketing lists, aka Spam.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Google will have a big get out clause

    "We don't know what the likes of Samsung, Xaomi etc do with these bits of Android on their phones"

    We all know that makers love to tinker with stock Android. Most of the results are bad and again most of us have encountered those apps that are started at boot and keep on running and can't be removed unless we root the phone.

    This could be the one time that Google has a get out of jail card thanks to the mess that is Android in the real world (i.e. not stock releases).

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Google will have a big get out clause

      I don't see how that would get them an out. If they've built the functionality into Android, they will need to fess up. If Samsung et al have modified it, presumably that modification would be to either 1) remove that functionality and restore user privacy (yeah right) or 2) have the private data go to them instead of to Google.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Google will have a big get out clause

        If I remember correctly, operational location service (for emergency calling) is mandatory in the US and not allowed to be turned off. Removal might not be an option either for Alphabet or for the carriers who in most cases actually control of the phone configuration provided to customers.

        Laws can be changed, of course, and it would be possible to legislated restrictions on how the technology is used.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Google will have a big get out clause

          As if the current administration that bends over and spreads them for corporations, or the previous administration while perhaps less business friendly in general but more Silicon Valley friendly than the current one, would ever limit the ability of a company to steal people's data and misuse it. This is the US, not the EU!

          The ability of a phone to know its location for 911 doesn't require that the information ever be transmitted back to home base. It only needs to be sent along with the 911 call. IIRC that's how Apple does it, and they clarified that policy because they recently improved the accuracy of 911 location information.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'might get you a little closer to the truth'

    If its anything like the Zuck panto on two continents, we'll learn little. Good thing that privacy abuse stories aren't going away, so we can extrapolate:

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    A real soap opera..

    As the last two paragraphs point out, there are some unanswered questions but perhaps a bigger one is: who's pulling who's chain? Why suddenly is Oracle raising eyebrows about this? Is there someone looking for world tech domination or pulling strings behind the scenes?

    Will Congress put on it's usual dog and pony show?

    And to keep it in the context of soap opera... what about Marylou?

    1. Giovani Tapini

      Re: A real soap opera..

      I hope Oracle is not considering going into the phone business.... I can see it now

      Handset (Basic) $175

      Oracle phone base licence $200

      Place and receive calls licence pack $35

      Application store option $35

      Connectivity bundle NFC/Bluetooth $40

      Basic Networking bundle Wi-Fi $30

      Advanced networking (5Ghz) $10

      etc etc

  5. ratfox Silver badge

    Hanlon razor applies

    The reason Apple appears in that reference is that somebody did a search-and-replace on the letter for Google to create the letter for Apple. They even botched the job because the quoted title does not correspond to the URL...

  6. Financegozu

    Beating up some foam ...

    So while Donald the Trump tears the American society and its political system to shreds, these clown are beating the water with useless drama. Guys, please ask NSA, CIA and their kins, They should know by now how much or little data each phone leaks. Very sad

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Beating up some foam ...

      Not necessarily. If stuff you say in front of a Google device while it is listening for "OK, Google" is sent back to Google, the CIA/NSA would know that. But they probably wouldn't know whether Google is 1) deleting that data without ever processing it beyond determining it wasn't "Ok, Google" 2) storing it away somewhere in case it someday somehow becomes useful to them 3) Using what you say to help improve their ad targeting (just in case, don't talk about sex toys in front of your Google Home, or you might start seeing some 'interesting' ads)

    2. GnuTzu Bronze badge

      Re: Beating up some foam ...

      "please ask NSA, CIA and their kins, They should know..."

      Oh, they think that the less information they provide the longer they'll get to go on playing innocent.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Tim Cook will have an easier time dealing at least with questions arising from the Quartz story, "

    He'll have a good opportunity to explain that they take care not to let data get away, not even to the FBI - did you make a note of the Mr Congressman, I'll spell it: F B I.

    Perhaps it was Apple who edited the report to make sure they got an invite to the party.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      I'm sure Cook is looking forward to this, since Apple has a much better story to tell on this than Google does, and it will give him a chance to highlight the difference. He's probably hoping what he says versus what Page says makes the evening news, though unless Trump forgets to charge his Twitter phone they'll probably be talking about other things that night.

  8. viscount

    If I was Quartz I would quickly write that story.

  9. nice spam database '); drop table users; --

    "Apple and Alphabet's answers these letters might get you a little closer to the truth."


  10. Aodhhan Bronze badge

    LOL @ Oracle

    Oracle's security has been so bad, they needed to figure out a way to make everyone else look just as bad or worse.

    Perhaps Oracle should spend more time putting out a product which doesn't need so many patches every year. I still don't understand why businesses buy their products. Not only is it security nightmare, it's more expensive than competitor's.

  11. cd

    The answer to Hey Google is to say it and then launch into a porn story about the founders. My phone has been less reactive lately for some reason. Many possibilities for a male threesome, please explore.

  12. Alex Coward 1

    Congress critters

    Where are they when carriers provide realtime customer location to all comers?

    How little did Telecoms need to bribe them to be scarce?

  13. SonyaWiley

    Hey Larry(family)

    This award is fake something sergey brin cooked up to put himself 1st, he's not 1st he sucks to everybody.

    Sonya Wiley is in the house! and the truth will set up free from this horrific monster.

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