We're telling Google: privacy shouldn’t be a luxury
Privacy shouldn’t be a luxury.
Google claim to agree with us - we know that because Sundar Pichai, their CEO, said so this May in the New York Times. And yet, Google are enabling an ecosystem that exploits people who own low-cost phones.
Today we, along with over 50 organisations including Amnesty International, DuckDuckGo, and the ACLU are asking Google to step up, and we’re asking you to join us in pressuring them to do the right thing.
Google has the power to dramatically improve the privacy and security of cheap phones. They already certify many of them as part of their Android Partners programme, which allows certain phones to use the Android trademark and 'play protect' branding. But, at the moment, many Android Partners are manufacturing or selling devices that contain pre-installed apps that cannot be deleted (often known as “bloatware”), which can leave users vulnerable to their data being collected, shared and exposed without their knowledge or consent.
Privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at least in theory. It is time for this double punishment to end. Being economically vulnerable should not mean losing your fundamental rights and companies have a responsibility to protect their consumers.
The changes we believe are needed most urgently are as follows:
- Individuals should be able to permanently uninstall the apps on their phones. This should include any related background services that continue to run even if the apps are disabled.
- Pre-installed apps should adhere to the same scrutiny as Play Store apps, especially in relation to custom permissions.
- Pre-installed apps should have some update mechanism, preferably through Google Play and without a user account.
- Google should refuse to certify a device on privacy grounds, where manufacturers or vendors have attempted to exploit users in this way.