Privacy advocate demands Google replace his Android phone with a Windows one

imageAlex Hanff, a prominent privacy campaigner based in Lancaster, England, has filed a claim against Google at the small claims court for around £400 to replace his HTC Desire.

The action is a response to Google’s recent privacy changes, which would pool data from Google’s various services, including Android location data, so the company can build up a more precise profile to sell to advertisers.

“The changes are a significant infringement of my right to privacy and I do not consent to Google being able to use my data in such a way,” said Alex Hanff, calling the changes an unfair change in contract terms andwhich  will force Mr Hanff to buy a new smartphone.

Google is under intense scrutiny at present by regulators in US and EU for abuse of its monopoly position in search, which means for many people de facto the internet and Google is synonymous.

“They’ve been asked to suspend the changes several times, and Google keeps telling the regulators where to go,” said Mr Hanff, who was previously closely involved in the campaign against Phorm, an advertising company that aim to profile web browsing by doing deals with broadband providers.

“They’ve basically stuck two fingers up,” he added. "Hopefully my case will open an avenue for other consumers to take similar action."

While Google has not responded to the specific case, they did say their Android phones could still be used for basic features without being tracked.

"Users can choose not to log into an Android phone with a Google Account and still use it to place phone calls, send text messages, browse the web, and use certain Google applications that do not require account authentication such as Google Maps. Some Google applications such as Android Market and Gmail require authentication with a Google Account."

Mr Hanff said that he will replace his Android device with a Windows Phone smartphone.

“There’s not much choice but I wouldn’t want to be subject to Apple’s privacy policy and Microsoft’s seems the least threatening at the moment,” he said.

Read more at the Independent Ireland here.

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