Google Bans Apps That Collect User Data, Despite Collecting Data Themselves

( Google is banning a plethora of apps form the Google Play Store that are being termed as data harvesters — despite the fact that Google itself collects loads of personal data from users every day.
A recent report from the Wall Street Journal said the tech giant has removed dozens of apps from their mobile app store after they found that the apps had data harvesting code embedded in the code that runs the apps.
The code in question was written by Measurement Systems S. de R.L., a firm out of Panama. That firm is linked through web registration and corporate records to a defense contractor based out of Virginia that specializes in network defense, cyberintelligence and intelligence interception work for various national security agencies in the U.S.
The Journal further reported that the code was found to have fun on millions of devices that are powered by Android — the mobile operating system on Google devices. It was also found in a lot of prayer apps for Muslims that have been downloaded more than 10 million times.
Other apps that the code was found in include those that read QR codes, some that detect speed traps on highways and other very popular apps aimed toward consumers.
The WSJ report said that Measurement Systems paid developers across the globe to add that data harvesting code into their apps. The code then allowed Measurement Systems to collect various data from users of those apps without them having knowledge that it was taking place.
That’s according to Joel Reardon, from the University of Calgary, and Serge Egelman, who works as a researcher for both the University of California, Berkeley, and the International Computer Science Institute.
Those two people founded a company together they call AppCensus. Their company examines the privacy and security of mobile apps. The founders said the code created by Measurement Systems is the most privacy-invasive Software Development Kit, or SDK, that they’ve witnessed in the six years that they have been analyzing various mobile apps.
Egelman added that it could “without a doubt be described as malware.”
This is obviously a huge concern for the millions of users who have downloaded, opened and used the apps — all across the world.
Google is apparently attempting to get ahead of the whole situation by removing the apps that have been found to have the code from its Google Play Store.
The hypocrisy here, of course, is that Google itself has become well-known for collecting huge amounts of personal data from users of its own systems, software and apps.
Some of the company’s own engineers were worried about how much personal information the company collected from users, as well as location information that they collected and then stored.
In response, many states have sued Google over its various practices of tracking users’ locations when they’re using the tech giant’s multiple products.