Update: Palm Pre Keeps An Eye On You

It looks like Palm is up to no good, at least if you're one to want some kind of security and privacy when going about your every day agenda.  Earlier today, developer Joey Hess did some digging around within the WebOS code that transmits information back to Palm, trying to find out what exactly Palm discerned from this information, and what he found isn't that promising.

It looks like Palm pulls at least this much information daily from your phone:

  • Your location
  • Which apps you've used and for how long
  • Your app crash log
  • Which apps you have ever installed
  • There are a few things in there that don't seem to be that surprising, or even shocking.  Actually, when it comes down to it, letting Palm see your crash log, or what apps you've used and for how long, can bring some very good outcomes.  If Palm can determine which apps crash the most, then they can fix those problems faster.  If Palm can see the major apps used, and how long they're used, then they can create different apps that may expand on that particular functionality.

    However, it is the location gathering that may cause some people pause.  Yes, some of this information is utilized to make Synergy work in general, but for most, their location doesn't need to be known by some computer somewhere at all times.  Of course, Palm has a broad privacy policy, and their terms of use even emphasizes the fact that if you agree to it, you can't get mad that their pulling this information from your phone.  The developer, Hess, goes on to say that there is a relatively easy way to make the functionality halt altogether, but this requires Linux access, and may even disable routine functions of WebOS, so follow up at your own risk.

    [Update]Eric Zeman, over at PhoneScoop got ahold of Palm, and got them to respond to the questionable antics.  Palm responded with:

    "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."

    In the first line, Palm says that they offer users ways to turn off data collection services if they see fit, but they did not go into depth about this, or why they need to collect application data. But, as we mentioned in the first place, application data makes sense. We'll see how this develops, to see if Palm goes into any (greater) detail.

    [via PreCentral; update via PhoneScoop]