Palm Pre Phones Home Without Telling You…. WTF?

If you are in the market for a Palm Pre, you may want to read this posting from PalmCentral first:

Joey Hess has taken a closer look at the code inside webOS that reports information back to Palm and found some details on what the Pre is sending back to headquarters. Specifically, it appears that the Pre uploads (at least) the following information to Palm on a daily basis:

* Location

* Which apps you’ve used and for how long

* App crash logs

* Installed apps

It’s obviously the “location” part here that’s troubling. As Hess points out, Palm’s Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy are sufficiently broad to give them permission to collect this information. In fact, our own Derek Kessler wrote up a post some time ago (which we were holding because, well, we’re not lawyers) which explained that when you agree to Palm’s terms, you grant them the right to collect this information.

I’m trying not to jump to conclusions here, but this sounds really bad.

What’s worse is that if you want to disable this ability you can’t unless you’re a nerd like me. That’s just craptastic. Did Palm not think that someone would figure this out? After all, it’s not as if nerds and geeks don’t go poking around shiny new toys to see how they tick. I wonder what kind of backlash there will be about this and how much negative impact it will have on the Palm brand. In my case, knowing that this smart phone does this has made it less desirable in my mind. I honestly don’t know why Palm thought it could get away with something like this without some blowback. Given the fact that it is behind the BlackBerry and the iPhone in the smartphone market and they have to overcome those two to get any decent market share, they really didn’t need something like this to appear. Oh by the way, while their terms and conditions allow them to collect this info, they don’t explicitly mention the above.  So it doesn’t make me feel any better.

One thing has crossed my mind though. How many other smartphones or phones in general do this. A quick Google search turns up the fact that the iPhone for one seems to have similar capabilities which has soured me on this phone as well. Does the BlackBerry do the same thing? How about Android smartphones?

Anybody know?

Before I go, here’s a piece of advice for Bell. Seeing as they are bringing the Palm Pre into Canada later this month may want to consult the Privacy Commissioner of Canada as I’m guessing that this sort of behavior isn’t legal in the true north strong and free Canada. It would look really bad for Bell to get sucked into this.

One Response to “Palm Pre Phones Home Without Telling You…. WTF?”

  1. great post It’s ROCK, dude..!! Good job

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