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Palm Pre Reports Your Location and Usage To Palm

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the caught-palm-red-handed dept.

Privacy 314

AceJohnny writes "Joey Hess found that his Palm Pre was ratting on him. It turns out the Pre periodically uploads detailed information about the user to Palm, including the names of installed apps, application usage (and crashes), as well as GPS coordinates. This, of course, is without user consent or control. The only way he found to disable the uploads was to modify system files."

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Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Insightful)

masterlogan2000 (1608973) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040643)

Did Palm not think that someone would figure this out? I wonder what kind of backlash there will be about this and how much more negative impact it will have on the Palm brand.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040701)

I wonder what kind of backlash there will be about this

Answer: Not Enough

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29040779)

Better Answer: It doesn't matter because Palm is a failure anyway.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Funny)

TheCowSaysMooNotBoo (997535) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040911)

Possibly even better answer: 90% of the Palm users don't care.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041133)

some do. its just hit the lawyer boards.
http://autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=1062087&mc=1&forum_id=2

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041229)

its just hit the lawyer boards

...hilarity ensues.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (4, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041409)

> some do. its just hit the lawyer boards.
> http://autoadmit.com/thread.php?thread_id=1062087&mc=1&forum_id=2 [autoadmit.com]

Err umm, Some of my um CLIENTS need to know if their Palm Pre will record visits to their prostitutes.
Ahem... please answer this question before 4pm this afternoon, if possible.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041257)

"90%"? Polyanna.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

endianx (1006895) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041365)

No, 90% of Palm users won't know. Most would care if they did, though probably not enough to cancel service.

Good news for me, though. My Verizon contract is up in 5 months and I will be moving to a network with decent phones. I've been really struggling between iPhone, webOS, and Android, but now it is just between Android and iPhone.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040945)

Answer: Not Enough

True. Likely there will be no repercussions whatever. Yet another example of an amoral corporation not giving a shit about their customers. Welcome to the 21st century.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041007)

True. Likely there will be no repercussions whatever. Yet another example of an amoral corporation not giving a shit about their customers. Welcome to the 21st century.

And that's different from other centuries how?

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041191)

Look up "prole drift." More people have opportunities to better themselves than ever before; now *everyone* has a chance to run a shady business and abuse their positions of power. Things like grass lawns and vacations also used to be the exclusive playthings of the wealthy.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041347)

> Things like grass lawns and vacations also used to be the exclusive playthings of the elderly.

Fixed that for you. Now get off my lawn.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041367)

And that's different from other centuries how?

In other centuries customers would riot with pitchforks and torches. These days customers just gladly hand over any and all personal information as though nothing bad is happening!

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041449)

And that's different from other centuries how?

In previous centuries, corporations had a more narrow base of customers. Today's world has the internet and a global economy that dwarfs previous centuries' world trade. The 21st century corporation has six billion potential customers, more than enough to care about one or a thousand.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041231)

> Likely there will be no repercussions whatever.

Right. You'll whine and whine, but you'll keep right on buying the stuff.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041065)

What are they going to do with the info anyway? I doubt they're going to send out a suit to every GPS coordinate that was embedded in every crash report. It is not a real time GPS tracking, it's periodic coordinates. My account already has my address, phone number (duh), social security number, and bank/credit/debit account number. So what if Palm's bug squad gets a hex dump of my GPS coordinates when an app crashes? What more can they do with that than what information they already have on me? How can they monetize a GPS coordination any more than an address and phone number?

Sure I don't want them to have that information, but I'd prefer them to not have any information. Unfortunately, I can't build my own infrastructure, and I'm willing to sacrifice some of that information to get that convenience. Besides which, I have a concealed weapons permit. Thank god for Ted Nugent :-P
But really, why should I care about a periodic GPS coordinate transmission when they already have access to my home, my phone, and my money? Let's get some perspective.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

weszz (710261) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041267)

Wait... you gave Palm your SSN?!?

Why would a phone maker need that... I understand Sprint would ask because of credit, but Palm?

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041545)

Wait... you gave Palm your SSN?!?

Maybe they gave him a chocolate bar [slashdot.org] in exchange.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (4, Interesting)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041269)

What are they going to do with the info anyway?

Does it matter? They're collecting information that they shouldn't be.

Would you be OK with a Mac sending Apple a list of all the files your user owns?
How about Linux sending the kernel developers your MAC and IP addresses (or traceroute)?
How about Windows sending Microsoft a list of all the search terms you've entered into Google? (via the TCP stack, not IE)

Since all 3 of these are OS-related, would you care if those got shuffled? (i.e. Windows sending Microsoft a list of all the files your user owns)

None of these hurt you in any way, yet I wouldn't want any of these situations happening.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041541)

But if this happened on a brand new model of mac, would everyone scream about breach of privacy, and that they are going back to good old Microsoft products, or would they just assume that it was a feature needed during beta testing, that someone forgot to remove from the shipping product, which is what this sound like.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (3, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041251)

Well, if my fellow coworkers who chose the Pre over the iPhone were not quite ready to return their devices for full refund and termination of any contract signed at purchase when Palm "hacked" iTunes and Apple promptly "fixed" it cutting all the users off from sync, now they REALLY have a strong case to return it.

In fact, I just mentioned this article to a co-worker who was showing off his shiny new Pre to me late last week, which after using it for a few days and finding out contrary to what the clerk told him that he could in fact not sync with iTunes, He's clocking out now to return it to the store he bought it from and promised to be headed to Bestbuy to pick up an iPhone 3GS on the way back...

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041483)

PALM released an update (violating the USB protocol) which allows the PRE to sync with iTunes. That was about 3 days after the iTunes update that broke their previous efforts. Sorry to ruin your troll with facts. Please go back under your bridge, goat lover.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040881)

I had a friend just return a Pre that died within a week, I liked the software but advised her to get something a little friendlier. After reading this article she's deciding between an iPhone and a G1. Amazing how these companies do not learn from other failures when people's privacy was invaded. Amazon, I'm lookin' at you.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Insightful)

Jawn98685 (687784) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041015)

VP of Engineering: "Dude, they're going to find out, and they'll be pissed."
VP of Marketing: "This is going to be great. Think of all the things we could do with this information. Think of all the people we could sell that information to. The feature stays."

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

Munk (59689) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041313)

I wish I had mod points because this is probably exactly how it went down.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (5, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041497)

VP of Engineering: "Dude, they're going to find out, and they'll be pissed."
VP of Marketing: "This is going to be great. Think of all the things we could do with this information. Think of all the people we could sell that information to. The feature stays."

EVP of Marketing: "I eat boogers."
CMO: "Excellent work, EVP of Marketing. VP of Engineering, you're too cautious. You'll never make it in today's world."
CIO: "He's right. You're fired."
VP of Engineering: "It's all good, I already have two other jobs lined up. Later, losers."
EVP of Marketing: "Did I mention I eat my own boogers?"

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041085)

This just confirms to me that Palm Executives are just too dumb to live...

Sincerely,

A long-time Palm user (who still uses a Centro)

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (2, Interesting)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041221)

This just confirms to me that Palm Executives are just too dumb to live...

Sincerely,

A long-time Palm user (who still uses a Centro)

Who's the stupid one here, the guy who runs the company that does dumb shit, or the guy who keeps using the products of the company run by the guy who does dumb shit to him?

Think about it.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041105)

The "story" doesn't touch on this, but I would suspect that there *was* disclosure on some click-through set-up screen, and the user wasn't paying attention.

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (2, Informative)

justdaven (1238962) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041207)

Maybe, but with the number of folks who tear apart those user agreements, we would have heard of it sooner

Re:Did it not occur to PALM that this is BAD? (1)

isThisNameAvailable (1496341) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041383)

Umm, isn't this simply the Palm Profile feature that backs up your device every night OTA? You're asked if you wish to use the service when you first start your phone, and it can be disabled and rescheduled any time you wish.

Yea, and.... (0, Redundant)

Bentov (993323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040655)

Is anyone surprised? Hell, I thought all phones did this anyway..nothing to see here, move along please.

Re:Yea, and.... (3, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040731)

Please, can I have my pretty, shiny leash, please? It offers me so much Freedom!

Re:Yea, and.... (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040987)

My Motorola i776 is GPS-enabled, but when it was stolen, Boost Mobile said they couldn't use the feature to find my phone. Probably because they get a cut of the hundred bucks it cost me to replace it.

Re:Yea, and.... (4, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041201)

Isn't it great how the courts can ask Motorola where you are but you can't?

Re:Yea, and.... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041091)

Do you think manufacturers can usually track that info about their users?

That, on the face of it, sounds unlikely.

I mean, I don't expect HTC to track me when I use my G1 (google on the other hand almost certainly does, but can be easily disabled, by turning off the location tracking)

Re:Yea, and.... (5, Informative)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041245)

"Hell, I thought all phones did this anyway"

Running the GPS on a phone eats up the battery, I wouldn't assume any phone company would be purposefully sabotaging the battery life of its own products to piss off its customers.

And tracking of cell phones has come up in the past, and is generally quite controversial: http://www.insidetech.com/news/articles/2299-controversial-study-tracks-movement-via-cellphones [insidetech.com]

I honestly don't know why Palm thought it could get away with it without some outrage. Especially when it has such a steep hill ahead of it already.

the fine print (5, Insightful)

alain94040 (785132) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040657)

Let's see if you can find the trick in Palm's privacy policy:

Personal information is information directly identifiable to you, such as your name, address, email address, and phone number, as well as other non-public information associated with such information. Some examples of how we collect and use personal information include ... [ a list that sounds pretty safe and reasonable]

The operating word is Some examples: legally, they don't say that the list is exhaustive and that they don't collect information any other way. So the long list of nice looking collection is just a decoy!

--
FairSoftware.net [fairsoftware.net] -- iPhone dev jobs for geeks by geeks

Boycott (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040659)

Ok, add them to the list.
Actually it's getting hard to keep track. Should we start a wiki?

Re:Boycott (5, Funny)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040781)

It would be easier to keep track of the companies that have NOT screwed over the customer.

I'll get back to you if I can think of one.

Re:Boycott (3, Funny)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040955)

My local, family-owned grocery store has never screwed me over!

Oh wait, they did stop carrying that one delicious brand of pita bread. And the express lane is always too busy. And there's that ugly, no-name DVD rental kiosk in the entryway with MS Paint graphics.

Never mind, they suck.

Re:Boycott (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041071)

My local, family-owned grocery store has never screwed me over!

Well my local, family-owned grocery store only screws over people who don't use their "Super Saver" friendly discount card. ...Oh, wait...

Re:Boycott (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041021)

Well, there's the Duesenberg corporation... [wikipedia.org] Oh wait, you meant companies still in operation?

Never mind.

Re:Boycott (5, Informative)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041049)

Seems like the only phone you'd be able to buy with this requirement would be an OpenMoko device. Maybe an Android phone if it's mostly open source.

Closed source and closed hardware devices mean these little surprises will continue to happen.

Re:Boycott (1, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041415)

> I'll get back to you if I can think of one.

Microsoft reduced my TCO and enhanced my usability. Aero makes computing fun. And they pay me to shill for them.

Re:Boycott (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040791)

Nah, we can just keep a list of those who don't do something to invade privacy or fuck us over on one of our other rights.

Re:Boycott (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041291)

This is actually an interesting idea. I would be very curious to see a wiki that comprehensively listed the ways that they have been poor corporate citizens. I don't expect many companies to be innocent, but it would be nice to know who is least guilty when I'm considering a purchase.

Re:Boycott (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041459)

I think at this point, we should start a white list instead of a black list.

Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040681)

Yes, it is probably not the best idea to upload crash information without user consent, but seriously folks, it's crash data. It's a way for Palm to find bugs in the field that would have been undiscovered in the testing labs.

Google does this all the time. Oh sure, it happens on the server where you can't see it, but the bugs occur and they need some way to log them.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040793)

Yeah, because GPS coordinates are really relevant to crash data...

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (2, Informative)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040861)

That would depend on the programs running at the time, wouldn't it? After all, some do use the GPS coordinates, so it is reasonable that some have a bug in how they do so...

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040875)


Maybe if the crash happened while the user was in the Bermuda Triangle?

.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040929)

They aren't particularly more interesting than what tower your phone last connected with, and it takes some doing to be surprised that the phone company would have the latter, so it strikes me as tone deaf that they would bother having the coordinates sent home (I suppose it might be handy when recovering stolen phones, but that sounds like more resources than would typically be invested in recovering a stolen phone).

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29040989)

It's probably more to verify that the GPS system is returning valid-ish data. If it starts spitting out 0' 0' (for example), there may be a bug which needs to be attended to.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (0, Troll)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040977)

Actually, GPS coordinates are relevant. This is because they can be used to determine which towers are being used by the device in order to debug issues that involve the cellular towers.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (5, Informative)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041077)

Wrong. The cell id (tower identifier) is available from the GSM module without knowing the GPS coordinates. In fact, with multiple local towers, you might incorrectly guess which tower is being used based on lat/lon, since they may handover (pass your call from one tower to another) for a variety of reasons, including capacity.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

trapnest (1608791) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041281)

The Palm Pre is only on Sprint (so far), so the radio is CDMA, not GSM. Your point is still valid though.

Devils advocate (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041033)

They may be if the crash is in a location based application...

Just sayin'. We need more detail on what the crash logs were from.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041219)

Yeah, because GPS coordinates are really relevant to crash data...

Sure. This is a mobile unit, so if there is a locus of crashes at a particular location, that might indicate that the problem is with the link to the local access point. It's perfectly reasonable that this is data that they'd want for debugging. (And they'd also like to get the same information from systems that don't crash, so they can say "well, other Palms have accessed from that spot with no problem, so it's not the local node).

Just because they want (or think that perhaps sometime in the future they might want) this information, though, doesn't mean that they should get it without permission. This is personal information; they shouldn't be collecting it without asking.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29040867)

When a crash dump contains your CC, SSN and all of your passwords AND you have to pay your cellular provider to transfer data you don't want to send or have third parties receive.. I think there are no shortage of legitimate reason(s) to be pissed and never do business with such a company again.

At least Microsoft *ASKS* permission send bug reports.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040901)

So...I show that you were in a T-Mobile store when your Pre crashed, how interesting...

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (5, Informative)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040985)

It's not just crash data. It sends that too, but it also uploads your GPS coordinates daily along with the app use data (what you've used and for how long) according to TFA. It's customer profiling, not bug testing.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041475)

I dunno. I've written code to collect data for bug reports. Basically anything I could find I chucked in. This was a while back and it was an POS system which didn't know very much if anything about the user, but I can quite imagine someone including taking a back trace and adding as much information as they could find without thinking about privacy.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041237)

When I turned on my Samsung Omnia for the first time, Windows Mobile OS *asked* me if I wanted to send crash data or not. I declined, but appreciated that they're civil enough to ask up-front.

Re:Oh no! Automated Dr. Watson (3, Interesting)

Otto (17870) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041389)

Google did this specifically in Google Maps Mobile well before they rolled out the "find my location" support in it.

In early Google Maps Mobile versions, if you had GPS support, it would include the GPS coordinates and the "visible" cell tower IDs and strengths in every request back to Google. They used this data to improve their location service (by getting GPS data on where the cell towers were) before rolling it out to the public. That's how they got the location service to work even on phones without GPS data, it uses the cell tower signal strengths to guess at where you are.

The data is still sent by Google Maps Mobile on any phone that supports it.

Obligatory (0, Offtopic)

Xserv (909355) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040705)

All your phone are belong to us.

No?

#fail

1984 (-1, Offtopic)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040707)

Its uncanny how accurate science "fiction" can be.

Re:1984 (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041299)

Hmmm, lets see how accurate 1984 is in this case:

An ultra-facist, ultra controlling government that...

1) Watches, analyzes, and controls your every move to identify possible revolutionaries.
2) Controls all commerce and businesses
3) Outlaws sex for pleasure (even with your spouse)
4) Convinces children to rat on their own parents.
5) Uses constant warefare, drugs, and pornography to subdue the masses
6) Re-writes history to suit its present needs
7) Tortures and/or kills anyone who resists it
8) Encourages (forces?) racism and nationalism to the point of incoherent rage in every citizen.

versus a private company that...

1) Retrieves information when your phone software crashes

Sorry, I'm just not seeing it.

Re:1984 (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041325)

Or you could see them as self-fulfilling. Who's to say that they would even have thought of such things without the fiction giving them the idea?

Oh Noes! (1)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040749)

I'm totally never buying a palm because of this.

Wait.

maybe it's because their stuff sucks and is super behind the times.

It took them how long to put wifi in one their devices? Treos have practically never had wifi, what is up with that?

Re:Oh Noes! (2, Informative)

Lord_Byron (13168) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041173)

Your comment is super behind the times. The Pre is a slick little device, and easily stands with other moderm smartphones.

Including in the "violate user's privacy" space, it seems.

User Consent ... (5, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040753)

Story says...

This, of course, is without user consent or control.

But From Palm Infocenter, they say [palminfocenter.com]

Palm's own "Terms and Conditions" statement, along with their Privacy policy, detail that Palm basically maintains it has the right to indefinitely collect, process, store and share this information. Users must accept this multipage collection of fine-print waivers and disclaimers in full during the initial device setup process before being able to utilize the device.

Re:User Consent ... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041477)

Users must accept this multipage collection of fine-print waivers and disclaimers in full during the initial device setup process before being able to utilize the device.

It was in the basement!

Uncool (4, Interesting)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040761)

I read the privacy policy [palm.com] and it doesn't really seem like it's built to cover this kind of snooping.

And then there's this:

You may choose whether or not to provide your personal information to us. If you choose not to do so, you can continue to interact with Palm, but you may not be able to take advantage of certain products, services, offers, or options that depend on personal information.

So is there a website or a setting on the Pre to disable this thing. TFA seems to say there isn't.

I mean, there's utility in understanding how people are using your device. But not letting your users know you're uploading daily usage stats and not giving them a way to turn it off?

Truly Uncool.

Settings to disable (4, Insightful)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041293)

The initial setup asks you how want to use your location information, and the "Location Services" app lets you change this at any time. I'm looking at the options under that app now, all of which can be switched off:
  • Auto Locate: Your location will be automatically provided to applications that request it.
  • Use GPS: Improves accuracy but can impact battery life
  • Geotag Photos: Stores the GPS coordinates of your location when you use the camera
  • Background Data Collection: Allows Google to automatically collect anonymouse location data to improve the quality of location services.

Survey Says.... (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040773)

...Palm is still obsolete as my old PDA from 1999. Boo.

EVERY cellular phone tracks you (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29040829)

even if it doesn't send any data, just by being in contact with some base station tower every few minutes. That tracking info IS used in civil and LE investigations regularly. And as Hans Reiser found, removing your phone battery to stop the tracking is considered incriminating evidence in its own right.

Re:EVERY cellular phone tracks you (2, Informative)

tengwar (600847) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041423)

No, that's not the case. A GSM phone will only call in every few hours; when it is switched on or off; when it needs to call out or send an SMS; when it is asked to call in; or when or when it moves between areas covered by different MSC/VLRs. An MSC/VLR covers a large area of a country with thousands of base stations. The bit about "asked to call in" is interesting. The network knows that the handset is in the area covered by an MSC/VLR, but not where, so it broadcasts a request for contact over the base stations in the area. The handset responds, localising itself to a base station. The point is to minimise signally costs and battery power consumption.

Yes, you can use the information about the last localisation in legal investigations, because the network keeps track of where and when you were last seen. It's also possible to send a silent SMS to get the phone to localise. However there is no continuous tracking of handsets by default.

Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb? (1, Flamebait)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040831)

Oh, I see, this isn't about an Apple product. Carry on then.

Re:Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb? (2, Funny)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041051)

Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb?

I only get paid to attack particular businesses and politicians.

I'm sure the hell not going to bother to attack someone else for free. Someone has to pay for it.

Re:Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041055)

Er, I think you just supplied it...

Re:Where's the hyperbolic and inflammatory blurb? (2, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041113)

Where are the fanboys defending this stupidity? Oh, wait, it isn't an Apple product.

Apps installed OK, crashes OK, location - HELL NO! (5, Interesting)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#29040919)

OK, I can see sending what applications are installed and what crashes have occurred given the user's explicit permission - I allow my Ubuntu boxes to participate in the "popularity contest" wherein what apps I install are (anonymously) logged, and I will frequently send crash reports to help get the cause of the crash fixed.

In both of those cases *I* decide if it happens, and I was informed of the data being uploaded.

But automatically reporting my GPS locations - HELL NO!!!

Yes, the Pre is a phone - as such it MUST, BY LAW be able to report its location to 911 (here in the US, natch). My phone (which is NOT a Pre) has been configured to turn GPS off for anything OTHER than E911. If I found out that it was NOT abiding by that selection - that it was sending position data to anyone other than E911 - then not only would I be terminating my cell contract, I would be filing suit against the makers of the phone AND the cell carrier.

Again, I can see why Palm would want apps installed and crash data - but WHAT DAMN BUSINESS is it of theirs to know position?!?!

Re:Apps installed OK, crashes OK, location - HELL (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041253)

I am not sure I would want them knowing what apps I have installed either. Why do they need to know? If it is a 3rd party application and it crashes have a filed stored on the phone so the crash handling application knows where to send the dump file or whatever. Palm does not need to know that my google maps application crashed, google needs to know. So send the error report directly to google.

Re:Apps installed OK, crashes OK, location - HELL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041329)

but WHAT DAMN BUSINESS is it of theirs to know position?!?!

To see if the issue is related to the towers you are connecting to.

Re:Apps installed OK, crashes OK, location - HELL (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041525)

To see if the issue is related to the towers you are connecting to.

Which they get by the cellular infrastructure backhaul, rather than by GPS.

Won't they ever learn? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041001)

You know, that total control of their users and the things they can and can't do. Apple should not control their users like that, it's just...

Oh wait, you mean someone else than Apple is doing that?

Damn you Microsoft, always controlling your users....

Oh wait, you mean it's neither Apple or Microsoft?

So, you zealots who always bash on Apple and Microsoft... what FUD will you say to protect your precious Palm now? And wasn't Google's Android doing something similar too?

The solution is easy: get a cellphone that's JUST A GODAMN PHONE.

Slashdot Exercise Time! (2, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041103)

In the spirit of blaming Apple for Palm's misbehavior with their iTunes stunt please respond here with how this is also Apples fault.

Re:Slashdot Exercise Time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041169)

Its amazing how resentful Apple fanbois become when they are brought to task for the M$ like anti-competitive behavior from their own beloved.

Re:Slashdot Exercise Time! (4, Funny)

Xserv (909355) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041247)

In the spirit of blaming Apple for Palm's misbehavior with their iTunes stunt please respond here with how this is also Apples fault.

I'll give it a shot: There's an app for that!"

I digress.

- xserv

Re:Slashdot Exercise Time! (2, Funny)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041359)

Really? What does this iDigress app do?!

Re:Slashdot Exercise Time! (1)

weszz (710261) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041523)

Hm... great idea... probably already taken though... an app that whenever you need someone to blame, it tells you who to blame...

probably would be blocked from the app store if Apple was one of the possible "to blames".

Re:Slashdot Exercise Time! (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041381)

Ah, the resident Apple fanboys. Always so defensive. Clearly this story has nothing to do with Apple, and nobody has suggested that it does.

Now I'm pretty well distanced from the Palm-iTunes shenanigans, not owning any portable music player nor running an OS that iTunes supports. I think there's a pretty narrow range of belief systems that could lead to the conclusion that Palm's behavior is worse than Apple's in that case. First, if you believe that vertical monopolies are generally a good thing, and that protection of them is in everyone's interest. And, second, if you believe that Apple is good no matter what they do. Although I certainly recognize that Apple was within their rights legally, Palm's actions made both their device and Apple's software more useful and Apple's made both less useful. If you think Apple's behavior is better hand in your geek card.

Dear Palm (1)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041241)

Although I am not your customer, were I your customer, I would gladly be a beta tester and give you all sorts of useful information (automated or otherwise) about how I used your products.

This being said, I would hope that you would have the courtesy of asking me to opt-in, rather than assuming that you own my usage habits.

Give the people what they want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29041275)

I'd use this as an opportunity to learn of an existing bug which both crashes the Pre and is easy to reproduce. From there, it's more of a field trip.

CRASH REPORT -- Hardware store
CRASH REPORT -- Army/Navy Supply store
CRASH REPORT -- Tree outside Megan Fox's bedroom window
CRASH REPORT -- Megan Fox's bedroom
CRASH REPORT -- County fair
CRASH REPORT -- Quarry
CRASH REPORT -- Petting zoo (after hours)

TFA Text (5, Informative)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041335)

Woops, looks like /. is hammering the server. Here's a copy of the text (as of now):

I've been taking a closer look at the WebOS side of my Palm Pre tonight, and I noticed that it periodically uploads information to Palm, Inc.

The first thing sent is intended to be my GPS location. It's the same location I get if I open the map app on the Pre. Not very accurate in this case, but I've seen it be accurate enough to find my house before.

{ "errorCode": 0, "timestamp": 1249855555954.000000, "latitude": 36.594108, "longitude": -82.183260, "horizAccuracy": 2523, "heading": 0, "velocity": 0, "altitude": 0, "vertAccuracy": 0 }

Here they can tell every WebOS app I use, and for how long.

{ "appid": "com.palm.app.phone", "event": "close", "timestamp": 1250006362 }
{ "appid": "com.palm.app.messaging", "event": "launch", "timestamp": 1250006422 }
{ "appid": "com.palm.app.messaging", "event": "close", "timestamp": 1250006446 }

It sends the above info on a daily basis.

2009-08-10t09:15:10z upload /var/context/pending/1249895710-contextfile.gz.contextlog ok rdx-30681971
2009-08-11t09:15:10z upload /var/context/pending/1249982110-contextfile.gz.contextlog ok rdx-31306808

There is also some info that is recorded when a WebOS app crashes. Now, I've seen WebOS crash hard a time or two, but it turns out apps are crashing fairly frequently behind the scenes, and each such crash is logged and a system state snapshot taken. At least some of these are uploaded, though if things are crashing a whole lot it will be throttled.

2009-08-09T17:01:22Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_59.tgz OK RDX-30246857
2009-08-09T17:05:36Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_26.tgz OK RDX-30249465
2009-08-09T17:09:11Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_56.tgz OK RDX-30252374
2009-08-09T17:11:46Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_70.tgz OK RDX-30253958
2009-08-09T17:16:29Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_67.tgz ERR_UPLOAD_THROTTLED_DAILY
2009-08-09T17:17:28Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_51.tgz ERR_UPLOAD_THROTTLED_DAILY
2009-08-09T17:20:40Z upload /var/log/rdxd/pending/rdxd_log_21.tgz ERR_UPLOAD_THROTTLED_DAILY

Each tarball contains a kernel dmesg, syslog, a manifest.txt listing all installed ipkg packages (including third-party apps), a backtrace of the crash, a df (from which they can tell I'm using Debian on the phone), and ps -f output listing all processes owned by root (but not by joey).

The uploading is handled by uploadd, which reads /etc/uploadd.conf:

[SERVER=rdx]
RepositoryURL=https:///palmcsext/prefRequest?prefkey=APPLICATIONS,RDX_SRV
UploadURL=https:///palmcsext/RDFileReceiver

[SERVER=context]
RepositoryURL=https:///palmcsext/prefRequest?prefkey=APPLICATIONS,RDX_SRV
UploadURL=https:////palmcsext/RDFileReceiver

The "HOST" this is sent to via https is ps.palmws.com.

My approach to disable this, which may not stick across WebOS upgrades, was to comment out the 'exec' line in /etc/event.d/uploadd and reboot. However, then I noticed a contextupload process running. This is started by dbus, so the best way to disable it seems to be: rm /usr/bin/contextupload

BTW, since Palm has lawyers, they have a privacy policy, which covers their ass fairly well regarding all this, without going into details or making clear that the above data is being uploaded.

After all the concerns about privacy today... (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041451)

What idiot thought doing this without user opt-in was a good idea?

article on precentral.net (soon to be slashdotted) (4, Informative)

tony.damato (13665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29041539)

http://www.precentral.net/fyi-pre-reports-your-location-palm [precentral.net]

When PreCentral's people asked Palm about this, their official statement to them in part was:

        Our goal has been to follow industry best practices on data collection, use, and encryption. Like most EULAs and privacy policies, though, the terms tend to get pretty detailed about potential scenarios. And because the terms are meant to notify users about all possible variations, we wanted to err on the side of over notifying rather than under notifying users through the terms of use. So there's really nothing here "beyond the norm" for a EULA or privacy policy.

        The provision you've quoted explains why Palm might collect user information. For example, we collect and transmit users' email addresses, email content, contact lists, etc. to provide WebOS services such as back-up and restore for the purpose of backing up that data and helping users restore the data if needed (in that case, it would not be limited to just the email address collected at registration). If users someday make purchases on their device through the Apps Catalog, then we would also collect payment information to process the transaction.

        At all times, we'd be strictly bound by our privacy policy. Our privacy policy, like virtually all others in the industry, contemplate our using data to provide services users have requested, improve our products and services (hence the reference to Palm's own "sales and marketing" in the privacy policy), troubleshoot, etc. We also refer to affiliates because Palm is a global company, and we may need to transmit data from our European subsidiary to the parent company. We're obviously not a conglomerate with many different subs and affiliates, but the terms specifically mention subs and affiliates so that we can comply with European data protection laws that require us to spell out that data collected by a European sub can be transmitted to another part of the company.

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