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Android Users’ Personal Info Sent to Developers from Google Play

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Google Play logoMOUNTAIN VIEW, USA – Google Play users are unknowingly giving their names, addresses and e-mail to developers each time they download an app.

Australian developer Dan Nolan wrote a blog post describing how he found the treasure trove of personal information from users who downloaded his popular Paul Keating insult generator app for Android mobile devices.

Google provides developers each user’s e-mail address, city location, and sometimes their full names because it’s treating each app order as a Google Wallet transaction. Google still sends user data even when an order is cancelled.

Nolan acknowledges that this is a major oversight from Google, noting that the information can be used to track and harass users who left negative review or refunded app purchases. Even worse, the information can be used to send malware or used to access bank account information.

Experts point out that although Google’s long-standing policy appears invasive, the information may be necessary for tax purposes, billing and records keeping.

User information is apparently needed for tax purposes because the app developers are the “merchants of record” in Google Play, while in Apple’s App Store the merchant of record is Apple. In Google Play, the transaction is between the Android app vendor and the customer, while Google is just acting as payment processor.

Developers are also required to protect private information of users, pursuant to Google’s Developer Distribution Agreement.

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By , International Correspondent, Cebo (Philippines) office
Published on Feb 19th, 2013 GMT +2

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