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Wireless News
Your Pre knows where you are, and reportedly so does Palm

Wirefly Learn » Wireless News

August 13th, 2009


By Ari Driessen
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The Palm Pre is phoning home from your pocket according to mobile software developer Joey Hess. Hess reports that the company’s flagship smartphone is reporting GPS location data and other information back to Palm headquarters on a routine basis.

The application developer says that he has discovered that webOS is programmed to periodically report information back to Palm. Some of the data reportedly making its way to Palm is pretty harmless, such as information detailing webOS crashes. Hess claims, however, that the Pre is also sending user’s GPS location data in addition to application usage information on a daily basis.

Although not fully confirming or denying what information the Pre reports, Palm issued a statement in response to the claims.

“Palm takes privacy very seriously, and offers users ways to turn data collecting services on and off. Our privacy policy is like many policies in the industry and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which we might use a customer’s information, all toward a goal of offering a great user experience. For instance, when location based services are used, we collect their information to give them relevant local results in Google Maps. We appreciate the trust that users give us with their information, and have no intention to violate that trust.”

The statement fell short of explaining what some collected information was being used for, and also didn’t specifically specify how Pre users can opt to prevent the device from transmitting certain data to Palm.

Concerns regarding privacy and mobile phones are nothing new. While the potential for a user’s location data to be used in some disconcerting ways certainly exists, it’s understandable that such data can indeed also be used anonymously to provide a “great user experience.” Information on crashes and application usage can also be used to improve software usability and stability, and provide benefits such as the ability to anonymously determine application popularity.

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Related posts:

  1. Palm Pre Plus vs. Palm Pixi Plus [video and comparison chart]
  2. Palm: It’s been nice knowing you, WinMo
  3. Palm Opens Mojo webOS SDK to All
  4. Palm Releases webOS 1.1, Re-enables iTunes Synching

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