Android WiFi Takes Blows in Tracking Class-Action Lawsuit and Tether-Wars | Wifi Walker, J B Chaparal Properties

Android WiFi Takes Blows in Tracking Class-Action Lawsuit and Tether-Wars

android-tracking A class-action lawsuit has finally emerged from complaints against Google Android over handsets tracking customer locations. This seemed only inevitable after Apple found itself on the receiving end of its own lawsuit involving the furtive tracking of users. The differences between the two devices seem to be that iOS doesn’t send tracking data to Apple, whereas Android does send data to Google; Apple doesn’t inform users it’s tracking the data and doesn’t encrypt it and has no actual opt-out, whereas Android asks users to opt-in when they use Location services. Both devices use some form of geolocation to store information about nearby WiFi and cellular signals in order to increase the accuracy of Location services or establish more reliable bandwidth.

Wired is reporting on the class action filed in Detroit on Wednesday as arising out of a question of user privacy in light of the discovery of tracking on iOS devices.

Both Apple and Google plan to attend a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law on May 10 to discuss the very issues called into question in the lawsuit. Representatives from the US Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Center for Democracy and Technology, and others will talk about what the latest mobile technology means for privacy and the law. Justin Brookman, who will be testifying at the hearing for the CDT, believes the law needs to be updated to account for the reality of modern mobile technology.

As smartphones and Location-based services become more and more ubiquitous the ability for them to accurately pin down the actual location of the user becomes more and more of an issue. A Google memo from last year has even revealed that the tracking of phone locations using WiFi signals is extremely important to their Location-based services.

By turning on Location-based services users already accept that someone knows their location: Google, Apple, the GPS provider, and/or the Location-based app network to name a few examples.

What those people who are receiving that data do with it is what’s going to be at odds with personal privacy. If people want the benefit of applications that are capable of providing hyperlocal content, giving them directions, tapping into GPS, or otherwise make their lives easier using this information they’ll have to be able to trust the people they’re providing it to. Lawsuits such as the ones directed at Google and Apple may be the beginning throes of how the public is coming to grasp with how much they share with providers.

Data-Wars: Android WiFi Tethering may become a thing of the past

tethering-android Tracking isn’t the only thing going on in the Google WiFi universe as PCWorld is reporting that free-tethering is going away. Consumers will no longer be able to connect their Internet connection through their Android smartphones to their WiFi devices without having to pay a significant amount as wireless carriers start to roadblock apps that make it possible.

Wireless carriers charge from $15 to $20 per month to allow users to share a phone’s data connection via Wi-Fi with laptops, tablets and other gadgets. Yet until now many Android users managed to avoid this rule by installing apps freely available from the Android Market, which allowed them to tether without paying extra.

Access to most free or low-cost tethering apps from the Android Market is now blocked from ATT, Verizon and T-Mobile Android smartphones, signaling the end of the tethering freeloading era. Some of these apps are Easy Tether, Internet Sharer, Klink, PDAnet and Tether for Android. Enterprising users can still install free tethering apps, but they would have to do it on a rooted phone, or from another source other than the official Android Market. If you’re on ATT, this will be particularly harder because of locked bootloaders.

Wireless carriers and cellular networks have been suffering under the weight of a smartphone world as users continue to flock towards data heavy plans being sold on the cheap with 4G LTE networks being marketed. Smartphones already love data and commercials have been swimming on every video service selling wireless products speaking about faster media to phones, bigger media to phones, and a great deal of carriers are quickly (if not quietly) withdrawing from unlimited data plans.

Tethering WiFi enabled devices through smartphones makes for a cheap, poor-mans cellular modem that uses the cellphone as a connection to the Internet.

Companies like ATT and Verizon see this as a hit to their consumer model when people ignore their USB and PMCIA cellular modems that plug directly into computers because such devices often come with much more expensive data plans (expecting that a laptop will draw more data than a smartphone.) In retaliation to users expecting that they could get into the network cheaper by going through their phones, they’re trying to segregate the two device types through the embargo of apps that enable the tethering.

According to the article, ATT has been actively hunting free-tether users and even e-mailed people they believe use such apps to threaten to move them to more costly plans if they don’t stop.

That will probably either lead to a Red Queen race between wireless carriers and tethering enthusiasts; or it will end in companies like ATT forgetting about attempting to embargo tethering apps and simply implementing data capped plans or tighten the reins on data burst speeds.

In the same vein:

  • Memo Reveals How Important WiFi Location Services are for Google Android
  • Lawsuit Lunch: Google, Twitter Join Apple in Court
  • Tablet Business Apps: This Week’s Best
  • Developers Grow on WP7, Microsoft Nokia Roll Out
  • The Chimaera of Online Privacy
  • Android Beats Apple in Speed (and Distribution)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.