Google Surprises App Purchasers By Sharing Data With Developers

If nothing else, a privacy dust-up this week about Google Play shows that companies should never take it for granted that people will just assume their data is being shared.

Earlier this week, Australian developer Dan Nolan posted a scathing criticism of Google for sending developers the personal information of app buyers. "Every App purchase you make on Google Play gives the developer your name, suburb and email address with no indication that this information is actually being transferred," he wrote. "With the information I have available to me through the checkout portal I could track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase."

Nolan characterized the data-sharing as a "massive, massive privacy issue" that needed to be fixed immediately. Other tech writers picked up on Nolan's findings and reported that Google was involved in yet another privacy gaffe.

In fact, however, the data-sharing was intentional. Google designed its platform so that people who purchase apps do so from the developer. That model differs from the iTunes platform, where people purchase apps from Apple.

Google Wallet's privacy policy states that the company shares personal information "as necessary" to process transactions. From the company's point of view, that disclosure sufficed to inform people who purchased apps that their names, emails and other personal information would be sent to developers. And maybe, in a strictly legalistic sense, it was.

But from a practical point of view, many people seemed blindsided by the news that their information was being shared. In that sense, Google failed its users by not explicitly telling them how its app platform worked.

2 comments about "Google Surprises App Purchasers By Sharing Data With Developers".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, February 18, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.

    Re: "I could track down and harass users", or you could give better support to them. What kind of paranoid world-view is this, that some people automatically fear vendors as vengeful stalkers? And why does it get republished?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 18, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.

    Vendors are vengeful stalkers. That's what companies do to sell things. The word no is the first word to yes. People who work for those companies also get their paws on private information. They are your "friends".

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