As reported in a study released 20211006 by University of Edinburgh, UK and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, despite the public discontent over data harvesting by big tech, it is (of course) worse than any of us thought.
The researchers found that Android devices, with the notable exception of /e/OS devices, even just out of the box with no other installations and sitting idle, these devices harvest great amounts of user info to the OS developer and third parties such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google.
Of greater concern is that this data collection offers no opt-out. Many of the apps cannot be uninstalled. Android users are powerless to stop this harvesting. To make matters worse, it was found that for some system apps such as mini.analytics (Xiaomi), Heytap (Realme), and iCloud (Huawei), the encrypted data stream can be decoded, making your data vulnerable to main-in-the-middle attacks.
Think resetting your Google advertising identifier will clear up the situation? Nope. The data-collection system easily re-links your old ID with new ID.
Then you just have to love the response Google provided: “While we appreciate the work of the researchers, we disagree that this behavior is unexpected–this is how modern smartphones work. As explained in our Google Play Services Help Center article (and I know every one of you has read this), this data is essential for core device services such as push notifications and software updates across a diverse ecosystem of devices and software builds.”
What You Can Do About It
The first option is to grin and bear it. This may be a reasonable position to take. After all, it is little ol’ you against a multi-trillion dollar industry. Might as well let the fricken’ blood suckers take all of my personal data and let me get on with my life.
Or, you can make life a little more difficult for them.
I’m fond of the life lessons story about two hikers out in the woods that come across a hungry grizzly bear. Hiker A asks Hiker B “how fast do you have to run to escape a grizzly.” Hiker B replies “just a little faster than you!”
Going the Android route simply makes it literally effortless for big tech to harvest your data.
Going the Apple route makes it more difficult. Apple has been taking strong steps to block some – not all – of the harvesting of your data. And it looks like with each update they are closing off more avenues to your private life.
Replacing your Android device with an Apple iPhone will go a very long way to helping secure your cybersecurity and internet privacy.
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