Is Google’s Tracking of iPhone Users Underhanded?
Apple found itself in the hot seat recently after it was discovered that the company had approved apps for sale in its App Store which were capable of secretly reading your phone’s contact book and sharing that personal data. The company’s damage control for that incident has led to the decision that apps must now formally request permission to access your contacts, hopefully resolving this all. Today the iPhone is back in headlines about privacy issues, but this time it’s Google’s actions that are under the microscope.
Basically, Google’s being accused of some possibly shady behavior in order to track users even when their browser wasn’t configured to accept cookies. Safari on both iOS and OSX makes it difficult for Google to track users across multiple sites that use its ad services. In order to get around that obstacle, ostensibly so Google could remember user information when serving ads so they could click a +1 button if so desired, Google started using a technique that made Safari think that its ads were part of normal Google services like Gmail or Google+, thereby allowing temporary cookies.
As privacy violations go, this one really falls on the minor end of the scale, but we can see why people are upset. After all, it appears that Google went out of its way to circumvent Safari privacy settings; should that alone qualify as breaking its “don’t be evil” mantra?