Why Android phones mysteriously trade 260MB a month with Google even when not in use

New lawsuit against Google for hidden data charges and the question of why Android phones mysteriously exchange 260MB per month with Google via mobile data, even when not in use?

Four prominent US citizens filed a lawsuit against Google yesterday, alleging that the company allegedly sends data from Android phones to its servers, thus charging its owners with data usage costs, although this transmission is not approved. or even notified to users.

The lawsuit, Taylor etc against Google [ see the PDF here ], was filed in U.S. federal district court in San Jose on behalf of four plaintiffs based in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, in the hope that the case would be heard by a judge.

The complaint alleges that Google unauthorizedly uses mobile data for Android users to transmit information to its servers for users who have not requested the use of Google services.

Data sent over Wi-Fi is free of charge and is not subject to litigation. Not even data sent over a mobile connection, no Wi-Fi, but when an Android user has chosen to use an application connected to the network. The plaintiffs are the data sent to Google's servers, which is not the result of intentional interaction with a mobile device. That is, they talk about passive data transfers in the background, through a mobile network, which are charged without their knowledge.

Google designed and implemented the Android operating system and its applications to export and transmit large amounts of information between the plaintiffs 'mobile devices and Google, using the plaintiffs' mobile data usage, which is charged.

Android users must accept four agreements to participate in the Google app:

  1. Terms of Service
  2. The privacy policy
  3. The Google Play Managed Agreement
  4. And Google Play Terms of Service

In none of them, according to the lawsuit, does it reveal that Google is spending money through users' mobile data for these background transfers.

To substantiate the allegations, the plaintiffs tested a new Samsung Galaxy S7 phone with Android, with a Google Account logged in and a default setting, and found that when left idle with no Wi-Fi connection, the phone “sent and received data at 8.88 MB / day , with 94% of these communications taking place between Google and the device ”.

The device, with all applications closed, transferred data to Google about 16 times an hour or about 389 times in 24 hours. Assuming even half of this data is outgoing, Google will receive about 4,4 MB per day or 130 MB per month, thus per device subject to the same test conditions.

The plaintiffs, on the one hand, are concerned about what could be in this data. On the other hand based on the average price of $ 8 per GB of data, according to US charges, 130MB makes about $ 1 a month lost out of pocket for Google data collection per month, if of course the device disconnects from Wi-Fi all the time and does all its passive transmission via cellular connection.

An iPhone with Apple's Safari browser open in the background transmits only one-tenth of that amount to Apple, according to the lawsuit.

Many of the transmitted data are logs that record network availability, open applications and operating system metrics. Google could delay the transmission of these files until a Wi-Fi connection was available, but instead chose to spend the users' login data (and therefore their money) so that it could collect data from all hours.

Vanderbilt University professor Douglas C. Schmidt conducted a similar study in 2018 - except that the Chrome browser was open - and found that Android devices made 900 passive transfers in 24 hours.

Under active use, Android devices transfer about 11,6MB of data to Google servers daily, or 350MB per month, which is about half the amount transferred from an iPhone.

The complaint alleges that Google makes these undisclosed data transfers to promote its advertising business, sending "badges" identifying users, targeting ads, and uploading revenue-generating ads, even if they never appear.

The lawsuit seeks to retrieve a fair amount of data via cellular connection from the time Google started this practice to the present day.



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