Palm Pleads Innocent On Pre Snooping Accusations

Smartphone maker Palm has been caught in a potentially disastrous privacy-related PR storm that started when one Palm Pre user noticed that his smartphone was sending location data to the company.

The user, software developer Joey Hess, wrote that he noticed that the pre sends the GPS location of the device which is the same location he gets when he opens the map application on the Pre. More worrying is the fact that details about what WebOS apps are opened and for how long are also funnelled back to the mother ship on a daily basis.

Hess provided with a way of stopping data from being sent to Palm using a simple hack but also pointed out to the fact that Palm has already covered itself in its privacy policy by including data collected when using on-device services.

The document clearly says that "When you use location based services, we will collect, transmit, maintain, process, and use your location and usage data (including both real time geographic information and information that can be used to approximate location) in order to provide location based and related services, and to enhance your device experience."

Palm has already replied to the mounting critics by saying that it takes users' privacy "seriously" and gave them the opportunity to turn location based features off if they wished to. It also added that "like many policies in the industry and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which we might use a customer’s information, all toward a goal of offering a great user experience.”

Some however commented on Mr Hess's post saying that his experience illustrates the openness of the phone in the first place. psykoyiko highlighted the fact that Hess "certainly has the freedom to modify this behavior. Any other locked down handset may do the same thing, but the user will not have the opportunity to investigate sans a jailbreak or some other circumvention," a clear reference to the Apple iPhone.