MobileInfocenter

Palm Pre Reports Users Daily Actions and Location

Satellite dishes array webOS tinkerer Joey Hess has discovered some concerning information about the Palm Pre. Allegedly, the Palm Pre smartphone and presumably any future webOS device, has been programmed to transmit daily detailed usage reports and information to a server controlled by Palm Inc. on a daily basis.

This information includes potentially identifiable details, including the users physical location (via specific GPS latitude and longitude coordinates) and a detailed event log that shows what applications were used on the device and for how long (including any unofficial third party apps).

Palm's own "Terms and Conditions" (.pdf link) statement, along with their Privacy policy, detail that Palm basically maintains it has the right to indefinitely collect, process, store and share this information. Users must accept this multipage collection of fine-print waivers and disclaimers in full during the initial device setup process before being able to utilize the device.

As of yet, there is no means to disable or opt-out of this seemingly excessive personal information capturing and reporting process. Mr. Hess reports that his first attempt to disable this background process was unsuccessful, however he recommends another approach and promises more research on the topic. At this time, the blocking method is rather technical and involves modifying some webOS system files. All of this data is sent to a sever with the address of: ps.palmws.com.

It should also be noted that the Pre also makes full daily device data backups to a Palm server. This action is configured to be active by default, and can be turned off via the Backup application preferences.

Thanks to PreCentral.net for the tip.

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That's not cool...

gally @ 8/12/2009 10:33:22 AM # Q
and here i was looking forward to an unlocked GSM model. Online backup - great! And potentially they have access to everything on the palm at that point. But actively collecting usage data as a REQUIREMENT to use the device? Um... is that even legal?
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totally not cool.

OrionNE @ 8/12/2009 10:39:20 AM # Q
It's bad enough that Google is trying to log your life now Palm. I know it is nearly impossible to not be tracked in some shape or form if you use todays tech. But this is almost infringing on privacy. And the fact they hide it in the fine print and force you to agree to use the product you freaking pay for is BS.
RE: totally not cool.
CFreymarc @ 8/12/2009 10:46:29 AM # Q
I'm so glad I didn't get a Pre. First the bad, pondstone-style industrial design, then the spoofing of iTunes in a cat and mouse game, now daily usage tracking. While I'm sure it is being collected for demographic purposes, it is bad PR. Makes me wonder if posting to this site is worth it anymore.
RE: totally not cool.
trekbowler @ 8/12/2009 11:28:48 AM # Q
I am extremely glad I bought my Palm Pre. I dislike the complacency of Apple regarding the iPhone's appearance. I feel that it is enormous and requires its own pocket in my jeans and the weight is also quite prohibitive. Beyond that, I think that Apple has really failed in the iPhone market as of late because they are failing to change the look of the iPhone at all. I own 2 Macbooks and love them for their simplicity when it comes to personal computing. However, I don't need a phone that laundry-lists icons as if I can't use simple menus; menus which allow me to enjoy my wallpaper and a less cluttered experience.

I prefer having my icons hidden, mobile, and above all the ability to truly run multiple apps at one time (I use Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and Calendar ALL the time and at the same times)!

Anyway, I agree with "totally not cool," the collection of data is not really that cool, but if you have gmail/gcalendar/facebook/googlemapsmobile, etc then you are already being tracked to a level that would shock most people. Nothing new regarding personal information or its exploitation is revealed in this article.

RE: totally not cool.
Show @ 8/12/2009 12:27:34 PM # Q
I agree not cool. What they should be doing is updating the phone with things the Pre should have already had when the first one was sold. Things such as the ability to forward text. The ability to make a short video. Voice memo.

Am I missing somethingn here? Low end phone do those things. My Tree 755p did all of those things yet my high end Pre does not? Incredible! When you call Palm or Sprint its in the works and will be part of a future update. What's taking so long?

These things should be STANDARD on the Pre. I can't even save a video to my phone.
Chance Favors the Prepared Mind.

RE: totally not cool.
jca666us @ 8/12/2009 4:51:48 PM # Q
>I feel that it is enormous and requires its own pocket in my jeans and the
>weight is also quite prohibitive.

Really? The iphone is tiny; definitely preferable to the Pre's tinier screen and flimsy build quality.

RE: totally not cool.
Tuckermaclain @ 8/13/2009 5:08:27 PM # Q
That is definitely a deal breaker. Will NEVER EVER EVER consider a Web OS device if this feature cannot be disabled.
RE: totally not cool.
joad @ 8/13/2009 9:07:34 PM # Q
"WebOS: Big Cloud Is Watching You."

I guess we now know the reason that Palm refused to implement local sync. Evil bastards. They want to keep all your business and personal data up on their servers, plus location and activity reports? WTF - did the NSA fund this thing?
Treo 755p FTW!!! (sorry, Preh).

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Site Mirror

Ryan @ 8/12/2009 12:36:06 PM # Q
The original site that reported this info appears to be down due to server overload. You can catch a mirror of the article text here in the slashdot story comments:

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1334059&cid=29041335

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The Obsolete Man

Gekko @ 8/12/2009 5:20:04 PM # Q

You walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future; not a future that will be, but one that might be. This is not a new world: It is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advancements, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: Logic is an enemy, and truth is a menace. This is Mr. Romney Wordsworth, in his last forty-eight hours on Earth. He's a citizen of the State, but will soon have to be eliminated, because he's built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last breaths in the Twilight Zone.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/85/The_Obsolete_Man_open.ogg

RE: The Obsolete Man
LiveFaith @ 8/12/2009 7:52:29 PM # Q
The answer to 1-9-8-4 is 1-7-7-6 !
Pat Horne
RE: The Obsolete Man
Gekko @ 8/17/2009 9:21:38 AM # Q

Palm 'Thorks' Itself in the Forehead

http://www.cnbc.com/id/32416284

Twitter is 40% ‘Pointless Babble': Report

http://www.cnbc.com/id/32446935

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Why not just opt-out?

freakout @ 8/12/2009 5:49:40 PM # Q
As usual, the Onion has their finger on the pulse...

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/google_opt_out_feature_lets_users?utm_source=a-section

If you don't want to give us complete access to your most private thoughts and feelings, that's fine. You can just toil in the hinterlands and die young.

But in all seriousness. I'll throw in with the "not cool" comments. All it'd take to make this a non-issue is the ability to opt-out.

RE: Why not just opt-out?
vetdoctor @ 8/12/2009 6:22:12 PM # M Q
Email a complaint to the FCC...Just not from your Pre!
RE: Why not just opt-out?
Gekko @ 8/12/2009 6:26:45 PM # Q

they don't want you to be able to opt out. ultimately, you and your usage data will be sliced and diced and sold to the highest bidder. you are a revenue center, a profit stream, an income annuity for a corporation.

RE: Why not just opt-out?
Gekko @ 8/12/2009 6:28:31 PM # Q

We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.

RE: Why not just opt-out?
freakout @ 8/12/2009 7:00:30 PM # Q
^^ Martha Stewart.
RE: Why not just opt-out?
reidme @ 8/13/2009 3:22:55 AM # Q
Launcher >> Location Services >> Background Data Collection >> Off

Non-Issue

RE: Why not just opt-out?
nastebu @ 8/13/2009 7:25:58 AM # Q
I'd be careful here. The article is "allegedly," which means anything and everything. If it's true, it's a mess and completely sucky ridiculous behavior. But it's not necessarily true.
RE: Why not just opt-out?
Ryan @ 8/13/2009 10:01:35 AM # Q
The background data collection is an option specific only to Google and the Google Maps application.

AFAIK, it does not relate to the daily uploading to Palm's servers. There is no means to opt out of that.

RE: Why not just opt-out?
joad @ 8/13/2009 9:16:49 PM # Q
^^ yes there is - don't buy a Pre.
Treo 755p FTW!!! (sorry, Preh).
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The New Palm

rmhurdman @ 8/13/2009 9:09:14 AM # Q
Palm is trying to be so sneaky. I personally see nothing wrong with collecting all this information. Just like there was nothing wrong with syncing with iTunes. What Palm is VERY bad at is: communicating. They didn't ask permission from Apple to co-opt their software and they didn't ask permission from their users to track everything they do with their phone.

Palm, it's simple. If you're being sneaky, you will be found out. And people will get annoyed. If you're up-front about it, especially if you respect the choices of others, people don't mind nearly as much.

I would have thought that "respect of the individual" and "choice" were American values, until I lived there for awhile. I think Palm had better rethink their approach before they launch in China, though, because over there "choice" and "respect of the individual" mean something.

Reply to this comment

Daily Activity Log

numlock @ 8/13/2009 10:07:07 AM # Q
What's most shocking about this situation is that people are not more bothered by this behavior. If this was any another company such as Microsoft or the Apple on the iPhone doing this I think there would be a lot more alarm and concern expressed all around.

The main issue seems to be that the Pre apparently sends a daily activity log that details everything you use and do with the device. Are people really that comfortable knowing that something is basically looking over your shoulder the entire time and shuffling off a report to some unknown database in the cloud?

RE: Daily Activity Log
erazer @ 8/13/2009 4:36:33 PM # Q
I'd be surprised if Apple (and BlackBerry, Nokia et al) are NOT doing this already. I seem to remember that there was something like this in the air last year. With cell phones, you are at the mercy of Uncle Sam because of security reasons. Give it up & move along, people, this is Web2.
RE: Daily Activity Log
rmhurdman @ 8/14/2009 8:17:18 AM # Q
More people would be up in arms about Apple or Nokia doing this because millions of people use Apple and Nokia phones. Of the hundred thousand or so users of the Pre, a bunch work for Palm, a bunch don't know and a bunch don't have the time to waste. That leaves a very small number indeed to be outraged as this.
Reply to this comment

Selling Palm to the Chinese?

joad @ 8/13/2009 9:16:07 PM # Q
Maybe Palm just designed the WebOS so that they can easily sell the whole company to the Chinese and they wouldn't have to change a thing to make that government happy. Fully compatible with the "Great Firewall" and citizen suppression.
Treo 755p FTW!!! (sorry, Preh).
RE: Selling Palm to the Chinese?
CFreymarc @ 8/16/2009 11:44:50 PM # Q
I'm there with you. This does look like a packaging of the company for sale. But why would anyone want to buy Palm to compete with HTC?
RE: Selling Palm to the Chinese?
SeldomVisitor @ 8/17/2009 4:39:02 AM # Q
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Palm already did the "make OS, sell OS to gullible" bit once before.


RE: Selling Palm to the Chinese?
hkklife @ 8/17/2009 5:43:49 AM # Q
HTC shoul buy Palm AND Access and be done with it. The irony would be splendid.


Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

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