Google Data Collection Research
By Josh ClarkPublished Sep 27, 2018
Whoops, Google, it looks like your business model is showing…
In “Google Data Collection,” Douglas C. Schmidt, Professor of Computer Science at Vanderbilt University, catalogs how much data Google is collecting about consumers and their most personal habits across all of its products and how that data is being tied together.
The key findings include:
- A dormant, stationary Android phone (with the Chrome browser active in the background) communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period, or at an average of 14 data communications per hour. In fact, location information constituted 35 percent of all the data samples sent to Google.
- For comparison’s sake, a similar experiment found that on an iOS device with Safari but not Chrome, Google could not collect any appreciable data unless a user was interacting with the device. Moreover, an idle Android phone running the Chrome browser sends back to Google nearly fifty times as many data requests per hour as an idle iOS phone running Safari.
- An idle Android device communicates with Google nearly 10 times more frequently as an Apple device communicates with Apple servers. These results highlighted the fact that Android and Chrome platforms are critical vehicles for Google’s data collection. Again, these experiments were done on stationary phones with no user interactions. If you actually use your phone the information collection increases with Google.
Pair that with Google’s substantial ad tech, including the network formerly known as DoubleClick, and Google’s data collection reaches well beyond the company’s own properties:
A major part of Google’s data collection occurs while a user is not directly engaged with any of its products. The magnitude of such collection is significant, especially on Android mobile devices, arguably the most popular personal accessory now carried 24/7 by more than 2 billion people.