back to article New lawsuit: Why do Android phones mysteriously exchange 260MB a month with Google via cellular data when they're not even in use?

Google on Thursday was sued for allegedly stealing Android users' cellular data allowances through unapproved, undisclosed transmissions to the web giant's servers. The lawsuit, Taylor et al v. Google [PDF], was filed in a US federal district court in San Jose on behalf of four plaintiffs based in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin …

  1. ibmalone Silver badge

    1. "$8 per GB of data in the US" Wow. Just. Wow.

    2. And people think it's odd that I turn all data services off when I'm not actually using them?

    1. Forget It
      Thumb Up

      How

      please

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: How

        The same way you turn on your flashlight : swipe down from the top to get the system apps. The mobile data icon (two vertical arrows in opposite directions) should not be far from the wifi icon.

        Tap to turn it off.

        Given that my mobile phone is a work phone, I go one step further : outside of work hours, I put it in airplane mode. That saves power.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How

          I have mobile (i.e. cellular) data option "off" 100% of time, and it stays off. However, as my handset is unrootable, it bitches about "Mobile data connection is off" all the time, and it's one of those messages you can't block or even swipe off, because, well, unrootable.

          But I live with it and, in fact, it's a little, unswipabble reminder of the true nature of my personal/business relationship with google: FUCK YOU! NO, FUCK YOU!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Big Brother

            @AC Re: How

            You get those messages because Google wants to phone home.

            C'mon don't you want Google to know everything you did so that they can use the data to improve their service?

            Why are you such a hater?

            /sarcasm

          2. detuur

            Re: How

            Consider using airplane mode. Perhaps that implicitly disables that warning message.

            1. Sampler

              Re: How

              But that would also disable voice calls & sms, he just doesn't want mobile data (presumably happy with wifi, though that is available during airplane mode)

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. JBowler

                Re: How

                >But that would also disable voice calls & sms

                It doesn't for me, but then I'm using an iPhone; I have both AT&T and T-Mobile and they both automatically switch to WiFi for voice and text when the cellular network is flakey (very common in the US).

          3. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: How

            When EE took over Orange they turned my voicemail back on. I got a voicemail message and went straight to turn voicemail back off. Now every time turn my phone on I get a message saying I've got a voicemail and should I be dumb enough to click through it tells me I dont have voicemail services. I occasionally get EE involved and they just tell me to turn voicemail back on and read the message and delete it - this will of course cost me money (PAYG as no signal in house) to get rid of something I never wanted.

            Looking forward to this new google free android though - if they get on for my 2014 phone!

        2. Reg Sim

          Re: How

          "outside of work hours, I put it in airplane mode" -Pascal Monett.

          I do home you choose not to let 'work out your location' even when WiFi and BT are turned off?

          -P

          1. Tomato Krill

            Re: How

            I’m sorry I just had a stroke; come again?

        3. Kev99

          Re: How

          Outside work hours I turn mine off completely. That saves data, power, and bothersome nitwits.

          1. Psmo
            Big Brother

            Re: How

            That what you think...

      2. Thicko

        Re: How

        Assuming you are not rooted you could try Netguard

        https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.faircode.netguard&hl=en&gl=US

        You can block individual programs and system programs access to the web through either wifi or mobile data or limit them whilst roaming.

        it does require a little setup to get it right but it works for me. i use the pay version downloaded from Github to add a hosts file to block lots of iffy web addresses when surfing.

    2. aoecnrideuhtdi

      If that's an average, someone's getting ripped off, because I'm paying 3.13USD/GB, and I know of plans for as low as 0.50USD/GB

      1. terrythetech

        Is the actual cost really the point here. It is the fact that allowance is used without the user knowing. I see lots of stuff about turn this or that off on this site but your average smartphone user i.e. 99.99%* of users know absolutely nothing about this theft let alone how to prevent it.

        *OK that is a guess it could be 99.999% of users

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Well, yes, that's an issue regardless, there being cheaper data available doesn't change that fact. But also, how are people paying that much for data in 2020? That's definitely an issue too.

          (Also, I'd always taken it as a given that things would be tryin to use data if not switched off. If it isn't google play itself it'll be some app that's installed and poorly written, or something trying to access network when you just wanted to open it to access saved data.)

          Edit: also 99% of users should know how to turn data off on their phone, it's one of the most obvious controls in the default UI and the fastest way to usage monitoring, which, if you are paying $8/GB, you probably want to keep an eye on regardless. Again, if google is exfiltrating data and people are paying for it, that's definitely wrong, but if this amounted to service level things like connectivity pinging then it'd be a bit like complaining to philips that their lightbulbs are stealing electricity from you.

          1. tiggity Silver badge

            It may be easy to turn off data / put in airplane mode...but users should not need to do that, they have legitimate expectation that if phone is "doing nothing" then there is no / little data transfer (may expect tiny bit of data transfer e.g. if they have something that periodically gets new data e.g. a weather app as forecasts change but they don't expect their cellular data to be used for googles benefit alone)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Duh! He’s offering a patch until google is held accountable

              Duh! He’s offering a patch until google is held accountable or should we wait and do nothing?

              Tho if he works for the cable company or the phone company or MS or for Larry then he’s just quoting from the repair book and you’re right

              “¯\_(ツ)_/¯“

          2. Fluffy Cactus

            Just to let you know: Older Android's phones have the "Mobile Data On/Off" button right on the

            "Slide down twice from the top menu", where it is easy to find. (Easy, once you are initiated to the idea of what "slide down twice from the top" might mean, of course).

            For reasons easy to guess, newer Android phones have now moved the

            "Mobile Data On/Off" button to

            "Settings -> Connections -> Mobile Networks -> Mobile Data.

            That way fewer people will find it, and more people will be charged more money for data usage.

            You gotta love how Google is helpful to Verizon, ATT, or any other cell-phone carrier. In the olden days that would be something for these "illegal trust busters". Now, I don't know, since it first would require a conscience to figure how can laws be made fair, we are all in big deep doodoo.

            (Uhm, are cell-phones called cell-phones in England, or are they like "Magical-Data-Lorries". I really just don't know. "Electronic Annoyance Bricks"? "Mind-Destruction-Modules"? "Alien-Customer-Depreciation-Units"? It's so tough to figure out another language, I tell you!

            1. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

              For anyone below 40 they are called 'phones'. Older people call them 'mobile phones' or 'moby'.

              1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                For anyone below 40 they are called 'phones'. Older people call them 'mobile phones' or 'moby'.

                I'm over 40, I too just call it a "phone". Also, Moby is a bald vegetarian. I have literally never heard anyone refer to their phone as a "moby", but then again, I tend to avoid hanging around with annoying twats.

                1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

                  it is supposed to be called a "compuphone", never a "smartphone"...

                2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge
                  Pint

                  10000 upvotes from me.

                3. Soruk

                  In Germany, they call it a "handy". I wouldn't recommend using that term (especially when asking for a phone) outside of Germany.

              2. MyffyW Silver badge

                As somebody comfortably into her fifth decade and native of these sceptre'd isles I say we call it a phone. Years ago when Left-Pondian colleagues said "let me just grab my cell" the mind boggled at what realms of biology, BDSM or other ephemera they were referring to.

              3. onemark03 Bronze badge

                'mobile phones' or 'moby'

                Mine's a plain, ordinary "mobile".

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: 'mobile phones' or 'moby'

                  I usually call it my "mobile" vs office phone. That way when they call and I don't answer they know it is not because I am away from my office but just because I don't give a fcuk.

              4. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                >Older people call them 'mobile phones' or 'moby'.

                You forgot the "dick".

              5. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Thought "Moby" was a Reg thing - like fondle slab was a Reg term for a tablet.

                That's what they're named on my Google account

            2. Def Silver badge

              I’m using Android 10 and I can still switch off mobile data from the dropdown menu, so unless you’re talking about Android 11, which is less than two months old, I call bullshit.

            3. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

              Ich nenne es mein Handy. Obwohl ich Engländer bin.

              1. MyffyW Silver badge

                I call mine Nena, and have a ring tone that starts "Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich?"

              2. ICPurvis47
                Angel

                Handy

                Am I the only one that read that and heard Stephen Fry's uber-camp german voice saying that in my head? "Wo ist mein Handy, ich habe mein Handy verloren"

                1. onemark03 Bronze badge

                  ich habe mein Handy verloren

                  I think you mean, "Ich habe meinen Handy verloren."

            4. YetAnotherLocksmith

              Just "mobile" usually, if it needs differentiated from "phone".

            5. Dave 126 Silver badge

              > For reasons easy to guess, newer Android phones have now moved the "Mobile Data On/Off" button to "Settings -> Connections -> Mobile Networks -> Mobile Data.

              The quick setting available by dragging down are customisable - not only which setting appear, but the number of them that are shown at once and the order in which they are presented. That's how they are on Samsung's OneUI on Android 9, but it isn't really any different to how my Nexus 5 (pure Google Android, a few versions ago) behaved).

              Typical behaviour is to swipe down to display 5 settings in a row, plus notifications below. Swipe down again to display a grid of 15 settings. Then swipe right to show an additional page of settings.

              Any deviation from this is more likely to do with your phone vendor's skinning of Android than it is to do with the version number of Android.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Mon portable.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Among the French speakers here it's just called a GSM.

                  1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

                    Ordiphone has benn proposed to the Académie Française

                    1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

                      Tu blagues, non?

              2. juice Silver badge

                > Typical behaviour is to swipe down to display 5 settings in a row, plus notifications below. Swipe down again to display a grid of 15 settings. Then swipe right to show an additional page of settings.

                I've just checked this on my S10+ and...

                First swipe down gives you 4 icons, which includes Airplane mode.

                Second swipe give you 16 icons, which includes Mobile Data.

                So while it's not quite the same as the above, it's pretty close. And at that point, I'll simply nod and agree with:

                > Any deviation from this is more likely to do with your phone vendor's skinning of Android than it is to do with the version number of Android.

                1. ibmalone Silver badge

                  You can reorder them and change what's available in the quick drop-down.

              3. Ybslik

                My Samsung SM-G973F Android 10 - Mobile data - Settings - Connections - Data Usage - Mobile data can the be toggled on and off

            6. Soruk

              My Motorola One Hyper runs Android 10 (so not exactly an "older" phone) and it has that mobile data toggle right at the top on the swipe-down menu - as has every Android I've ever owned.

            7. SuperGeek

              My UMIDIGI Power 3 is brand spanking new, the Mobile Data On/Off button is on the dropdown, and this phone uses AOSP, no bloatware. Still in the same place it was on my old bloatware rigged Sammy Galaxy S6.

              Don't know where you're getting the "Older" from.

          3. hoola Silver badge

            And 260MB is a hell of a lot of information, even if it is not compressed. Add compression onto text. xml or similar and the actual payload could be 10 times that.

      2. Mage Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: someone's getting ripped off

        All users. What you are paying is irrelevant. This is theft of your bandwidth.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: someone's getting ripped off

          This is theft of your bandwidth.

          and the only TRUE remedy includes the ability to TURN THIS *CRAP* OFF!!!

      3. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Its an average. Im paying lebara 7.99 for 10gb a month. Some people are on much higher payg rates.

        1. MOH

          What's the USD / lebara exchange rate these days?

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Trollface

            Lebara is a terrorist organisation that tries to undermine the corporate monopolies that are the pillars of the western civilisation!

            (That is why it is not operating in the USA.)

      4. JBowler

        >If that's an average, someone's getting ripped off, because I'm paying 3.13USD/GB, and I know of plans for as low as 0.50USD/GB

        I haven't found a way of buying data in the US, maybe there is one but all I can find from the major carriers are arrangements for buying a limited-term right to use up to a certain amount of data. Carriers also offer what they call "unlimited" data but the data rate is throttled after a given amount of data. There's nothing like the EU or UK where you can go into the local news agent or chemist and buy 10GByte of data for 10-15 quid; actually most of the world works that way.

        Real examples: I'm paying $15 for 30 days service on one device including *UP TO* 2GByte from T-Mobile. From AT&T I'm paying $111 (approximately) for a month service for three devices and *UP TO* 4GByte of data total; in this case the part of the 4GB that I don't use roles over to the next month then disappears. Last month I used 1.41GB of data across all three devices, so I paid $39 per GByte!!!

        When I get rid of AT&T I will get rid of my mobile hot-spot and end up paying T-Mobile $15/month for each device, $30 total for the same max amount of data as AT&T, but without the roll-over. Consequently I will be paying about $10/GB.

        With AT&T the last time I exceeded even 2GByte was November 2019. At that point the max was only 2GByte (it changed to 4 that month) and I was charged $15 for 1GByte - I actually used 0.61GByte of it.

        IRC last time I was in Taiwan I paid about NT$300 (USD10) for 10GB, that was at the airport but data for residents works out about the same.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have always switched wifi, mobile data and bluetooth off on my phone unless I need them. then I turn them on, do what I need to do and turn them off again. Prevents crap like this as well as letting me go for days between recharges.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Why would turning mobile data off prevent this, surely all the background task will do is upload the data as soon as there is a connection, WiFi or Data. I also do not trust that turning data off actually prevents this. Just as when WiFi is off it is still scanning for access points in the background it is not inconceivable that Mobile Data does something similar for Google Services only.

        They are total shysters and will just shrug this of with the usual "sorry this was a minor programming error, it won't happen again" Here is $1 million to pay the legal bills and pay 1 cent to each plaintiff.

        Seriously, it does not matter which big tech company you are dealing with (Apple included), we simply do not know what they are collecting and using. They either control the device (Apple & Google) or are so hooked into it (Facebook and all the "App from Amazon etc) that they can pretty much see anything for 99.9% of users.

        1. Soruk

          My ex-wife's Blu phone kept turning the mobile data on by itself, so I installed a profile action thingy that has the action of disabling mobile data when the phone was unlocked. No such misbehaviour on any HTC, Huawei(!), Samsung or Motorola device I've had.

          As for scanning WiFi when switched off, that is switchable under Location Settings (on my Moto One Hyper).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @hoola

          May I ask that you go to Apple's website and read their privacy policy? It is easy to read as it is written in Proper English not that legalese bollocks.

          Cheers… Ishy

          1. SuperGeek

            Re: @hoola

            And we all know full well that Apple *sarcasm* *follow their own rules to the letter* /sarcasm, don't we?

            Nope.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Depends on Carrier

        Back in the day, I had an Android - a Samsung S3. It was good - not great, it had some stuttering issues when unlocking, and sometimes when answering the phone. The biggest problem that I had was that 1) I had a carrier specific model and 2) a low limit data plan (300MB). I had no idea that there were carrier specific versions. I have since discovered even Apple does this; not all Apple phones will work with Verizon (CDMA), so unlocked phones passed to friends won't always work.

        Anyway, back to data: I was a good citizen - when I got close to the limit, I would disable my mobile data. That's when the problems started happening:

        * I could no longer download images from texts - images sent via text had to be downloaded via cellular data, even if WiFi is available. (Apple works around this with iMessage).

        * Because the cellular data was off, my phone would become incensed, and would get exceedingly hot to the touch, so much so that making/answering phone calls was difficult.

        * The heat was from some Android process, going nuts that it could NOT GET the DATA, and it would loop endlessly trying to get it. It was so bad that I could watch the battery life percentage drop 1-2% a second.

        * None of these were fixed by the various 4.1/4.2/4.3/4.4 updates

        In a rage, I rooted the phone to Android 5.1, and it became usable and somewhat snappy. More storage, too. I still had to tell friends and family not to text me images, but at least I could use the phone again. If they forgot, I could still use the phone. I eventually replaced it with a Note3 (running 5.0.1), but had to retire it after about a year when I found that it wasn't getting an update to Android 6.0 (the Canadian version of the exact same phone did, interestingly enough), and there were serious vulnerabilities with the 5.0.1 version of the Note 3 (I didn't get 5.1!).

        Takeaways from all this:

        * Carrier phones suck - if your financials require you to get one - don't pay more than 1/2 the sticker. Expect its value to drop faster than a new car rolling off the dealership lot. If you keep it longer than 1.5 years, remove your banking apps from it (if you put them on there at all). Supposedly, you get "2 years" of support from "top tier" Android maker Samsung. In my experience, you'll get 2 years from design, not release from them. Google/Moto get nods for roughly 3 years of support (but YMMV based on model). Or, get on an upgrade (rental) plan, because you'll need a new phone every year for security updates.

        * I know Apple gets a lot of hate here for selling 2nd tier hardware - but their software support is there for 5 years, which is unheard of in the Android world. Can't really fault Apple, either, because people are willing to pay high prices to support the software. Another famous company that does this (and did it first - with premium prices): Nintendo.

    4. drd

      That's sweet

      Make it all about the cost of data, not what's actually happening via the OS. Own stock in Alphabet, or are you a paid poster?

    5. bdg2

      WTF are people who pay such ludicrously high amounts for data even considering buying smart phones?

  2. Chris Gray 1
    Unhappy

    Yikes!

    My limit (before I pay extra) is 300 MB/month. The amount consumed by the Google stuff has skyrocketed in the last few months. My total usage is now getting disturbingly close to the limit. I have disabled network access to many apps, but the biggies so far this month are Google Play services, Google and Google Play Store, in that order. Android OS is down a bit later. Hmm. Why has "Setup Wizard" used 2.26KB? My phone is 7+ years old! I likely *can't* disable access to those top 3. ... Well, it did let me restrict all 3 to WiFi only, so maybe I'm safe! But..., I'll have to see if I still get notified of incoming gmails and emails.

    1. Chris Gray 1

      Re: Yikes!

      Well, without the "Google" one, I can't do voice input for texts, and likely anything. Turned that back on for now.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Yikes!

        I have unlimited data for €18.00/month, I am currently at 4.3GB half way through the month.

        Though that is higher than usual as the broadband has been sketchy so I have been using the phone as a hot spot.

        Using Yoigo in Spain.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Yikes!

        On my last phone with Google stuff on it, you could make some voice recognition stuff work offline by going to Settings -> Language and Input -> Voice Search -> Offline speech recognition. That might work in your case. A warning though, that was many years ago. I'm now using de-Googled Lineage OS, which just doesn't have speech recognition in it. I've periodically thought of trying to put it back, but haven't really bothered.

    2. Richard Jones 1
      WTF?

      Re: Yikes!

      Halfway through the month and I have used 111mb of data with a small amount on web trawling while out, that sound about right to me. Google services are restricted to Wi-Fi. Maps used about half the mobile data consumed and a web activity about a quarter of my total so far.

      Frankly, I do not see a problem. Update activity is via home Wi-Fi, home mobile reception is crap anyway.

      Learn how to use the mobile.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Yikes!

        Those data transmissions will also trigger wakelocks. If google didnt phone home as much then your battery would last longer too.

        Its nothing to do with using your phone properly, it does this whether you are using you phone or not.

      2. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Yikes!

        "Frankly, I do not see a problem."

        Then maybe you should re-read the article. To quote:

        "To support the allegations, the plaintiff's counsel tested a new Samsung Galaxy S7 phone running Android, with a signed-in Google Account and default setting, and found that when left idle, without a Wi-Fi connection, the phone "sent and received 8.88 MB/day of data, with 94 per cent of those communications occurring between Google and the device."

        Regardless of how much percieved control you have over your device, regardless of whether you have turned off all wifi on the device, regardless of whether you have turned off all data connections on the device, it still phones home using the main cellular network. That is the main thrust of the argument here.

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Yikes!

        Learn how to use the mobile.

        Learn how to read the article?

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Yikes!

          Kapow!

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Yikes!

      I'd recommend that you check if LineageOS can be installed on your phone, and if so to give it a try, without the Google services.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I see this on my pihole and dns logs - it is a seriously crazy amount of idle chatter

    1. Zinc Wombat

      It’s always entertaining to review my pfsense router or pihole DNS logs to see how much crap gets blocked. It’s even more entertaining to map incoming requests by source region to see where most of the traffic originates. Must be hordes of spotty little incels labouring in their mama’s dumpling shops trying to break into my temperature sensor raspberry Pi!

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Gimp

      "it is a seriously crazy amount of idle chatter"

      It's not idle chatter.

      It's a global data fetishist harvesting more and more information about the people they farm out to their advertising customers.

      You are not customers.

      You are product.

    3. mtfrank

      Monthly more the the complete works of Shakespeare and Robbie Burns!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relax citizen.

    Big Brother loves you.

    Love is war, information is peace.

  5. MrMerrymaker Silver badge

    Easy fixes

    1. Root (it's Linux superuser, after all)

    2. Custom ROM without Google

    3. Blokada (you can even do this step on its own on any android)

    4. Adaway

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Easy fixes

      I wouldn't call this 'Easy fixes' for 99% of phone users. Especially rooting and flashing custom ROMs if the manufactuer has the bootloader on the phone locked

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Easy fixes

        > I wouldn't call this 'Easy fixes'

        Indeed, anything you can't explain over a phone to an elderly relative is not an "easy" solution.

        The fact that some savvy 1% (you're part of) can do it, is irrelevant. If you can't grasp this, think about surgery: All surgeons know how to perform surgery, so why shouldn't we expect as much from the average Joe in the streets?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Easy fixes

          Or, indeed, the man on the Clapham omnibus.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Easy fixes

        > Especially rooting and flashing custom ROMs

        Thing is, users shouldn't have to jump through (quite deliberately placed) hoops to do that, if they so choose.

        By all means, ship with root disabled and your own default firmware, but make root access and access to the bootloader configuration settings.

        And yes, I know *why* they do it. Same reason as (many) printers not accepting third-party ink, and just as justifiable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy fixes

      the stumbling block here is rooting, further steps are irrelevant if you smash against No 1. Rooting has always been somewhat... complicated and risky, particularly if you're non technical and instructions are written by people who know what they're doing, but not always able to express themselves precisely. But as the process has become easier for a non-techie user, over the last 5 - 7 years, finding a rootable handset, in the same period, has become harder. MUCH harder. And generally people buy a phone first, try to root it later, rather than search for a rootable phone to buy (I'm talking about the average punter). Then they fail to root / get put off by scumbag businesses that offer quick and easy solutions (lol), stay away from rooting for ever.

      But the biggest problem is that the number of rootable phones has shrunk significantly, and I don't think it's by accident :(

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Easy fixes

        the stumbling block here is rooting, further steps are irrelevant if you smash against No 1.

        Rooting isn't a possibility any more as the app from my bank refuses to work on a rooted phone (claim is that it is a security issue) and banking has become nearly impossible without the app.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Easy fixes

          while I hate banks as much (or more than) google, there is a reason behind their step to block banking apps on rooted handset (other than to put off people from rooting). The main reason i.e. to cover banks' asses. Rooting is, technically, compromising os integrity. People generally associate rooting with good things (you get unshackled / get rid of all the shit they bake onto the handset when they sell it to you), but it also happens to be the route for the bad guys to compromise your phone. And siphon off your funds. If this happens, banks are covered (blame the os and their vulnerabilities). But if a banking apk works on a compromised handset, this makes a bank less "diligent", thus more exposed to potential litigation. Why take the risk, particularly as there's NOT benefit to the bank to allow an app running on a rooted handset? "We take security of our customers extremely seriously and therefore need to ensure our applications are run on platforms as secure as possible, etc, etc." And it's hard not to agree with them (even though they don't give a shit about their customers losing money, they care about their own interests).

    3. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Easy fixes

      1. This wont help. Android phones home with or without root.

      2 this will work. Not many apps can be installed without google framework though (not play store, framewoork). Many use the chrome libraries too.

      3.doeant matter. A lot of chatter goes to google which if blocked renders point 2 moot.

      4. See point 3. These are not adverts endpoints these are google calls.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy fixes

      There's a much easier fix. Re-write the whole OS from scratch and install that instead. It'll only take a couple of hours. Why didn't you think of that?

    5. very angry man

      Re: Easy fixes

      Just tried to get to the blokada site and android seems to block the site, turned off a shit load of stuff and eventually when to developer mode to get to site, then version 5 throws a phasing error, but the version 4.8 loaded ok

  6. ecofeco Silver badge

    I always wondered about this

    I've noticed this for years but was unable to track down the source and cause.

    Now I know. Yet I am not surprised.

  7. JimPoak
    Devil

    Once.

    I had an android phone once. It's gone now.

    With wire-shark monitoring you can look at the traffic travelling through a hot spot connected to your computer. Their are a lot of encrypted files, way more needed for updates. I'm glad someone has brought this to the surface and is willing to bring to to court.

    Monitoring since 2018 and looking at this c**p!

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Once.

      Agreed that running Wireshark or OpSense really opens up your eyes.. It's surprising to know that "my phone is doing nothing" does not mean the same thing for everyone....

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Once.

      Well, you don't have anything to hide, unless you are a criminal?

  8. Tom7

    Don't assume malice here

    I've been doing some work for a client recently who develops access points with 4G and Ethernet connectivity. It's surprisingly easy to get this wrong. Suppose you want to fail over between links at most 5 seconds after the link becomes unresponsive; that means doing some kind of connectivity test every 5 seconds. Most of the internet treats "I can ping 8.8.8.8" as exactly equivalent to "I have internet access." A normal ICMP echo packet is 86 bytes, multiplied by two to include the reply. At every 5 seconds, you're sending 17,280 of those a day and you've just eaten roughly 100MB per month.

    It doesn't take many other services that poll every few seconds to see if anything's happened (hangouts, gmail, play services, assistant, maps, location sharing...) to make "only" 250MB per month look pretty good.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      The potential smoking gun here is that, having been asked for comment by El Reg, Google declined.

      If they had a reasonable excuse as you are suggesting, I imagine they would have used it.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        Maybe the El Reg reporter should have asked Google for information by means of a Subject Access Request - Google has to respond, as a matter of law.

        If the user has not agreed to this data to be transferred out of the EU then that is another breach - depending on T&Cs agreed.

        What if someone buys a 'phone and uses it as one - ie does not agree to T&Cs for play store, etc, as well - does the data still go ?

        1. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Not necessarily

          "If the user has not agreed to this data to be transferred out of the EU then that is another breach"

          Contrary to common opinion, consent is not the only applicable lawful basis for transfers out of the EEA. The fundamental requirement is commonality of protection (including human rights protection). Since the overthrow of Privacy Shield, this is seriously challengeable.

      2. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        Playing devil's advocate here a bit, but there's a lawsuit involved. If I were Google PR, I would decline to answer anything and everything even tangentially related to the topic, until I get told by my lawyers exactly what I can safely answer, irrespectively of whether I feel guilty or not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          The evidence seems to suggest that Google has been doing this for years, way over long enough for it's lawyers to have anticipated it's detection and plenty of time for them to have advised the PR department on to craft a pre-canned response. Not responding now implies either gross hubris or gross ignorance and mis-management or all of the above.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          Sub judice

          Not that that's necessarily a show stopper when parties feel they want to get a point across to the public.

        3. First Light Silver badge

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          Their PR team can easily give an anodyne response, along with the usual vigorous denials of wrongdoing and claims of simply improving customer experience, blah blah.

          Maybe they're scared of this publication.

      3. Robert Grant Silver badge

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        > The potential smoking gun here is that, having been asked for comment by El Reg, Google declined

        That really isn't a smoking gun.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          Vaping gun?

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      Android is hardly new and this is not new behaviour.

      Of course Google and app writers don't have my definition of malice.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        My daughters iPhone used to do 250MB/month easily even with all games set to wifi only. It was "Apple system services" using it up. Cheaper contract for higher allowance means I haven't checked this in a while...

    3. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      > It doesn't take many other services that poll every few seconds to see if anything's happened (hangouts, gmail, play services, assistant, maps, location sharing...) to make "only" 250MB per month look pretty good.

      Connectivity status should be a system service, so only one set of polling from the OS and this then informs other apps/services the status and if it changes (and they have to subscribe to receiving those notifications). IIRC this is what happens in Android when you write an app that polls for RF measurements. One minor caveat, I think there are levels of polling which dictate frequency (at least there was in GPS), so the OS does the polling at the highest subscribed rate.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        GPS is (or should be) completely reception based, doesn't need to send.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          Yes, but the point I was making is that determining state is an OS level thing, not an app thing. The OS can poll on a requested periodicity and notify subscribed apps to the result, same as for GPS taking a fix on the requested periodicity and then lets subscribed apps know the result

          1. stiine Silver badge

            Re: Don't assume malice here

            Ha, if you did that, the idiots at Mozilla would probably have an aneurysm.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          >GPS is (or should be) completely reception based, doesn't need to send.

          Phones tend to use aGPS (Assisted GPS) to get a faster fix on the satellites. AGPS uses multiple cell mast signals (if available) to quickly but roughly determine a phone's location, and thus have a head start in acquiring an accurate GPS fix.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      > that means doing some kind of connectivity test every 5 seconds. Most of the internet treats "I can ping 8.8.8.8" as exactly equivalent to "I have internet access." A normal ICMP echo packet is 86 bytes, multiplied by two to include the reply.

      FWIW, TCP SYN + SYN-ACK is 148 bytes round trip, a 16% saving. Or you can use SYN+RST-ACK at 130 bytes, a 32% saving.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        > Suppose you want to fail over between links at most 5 seconds after the link becomes unresponsive

        Or, if you don't care about switchover until the link is used, you can just observe the TCP handshake and either assume the link is down if no ACK response is forthcoming within five seconds, or wait say three seconds for the ACK, test the link somehow (ICMP, whatever) and if still no response after two seconds, switch over.

        This way, you get zero overhead on an idle link, and even zero overhead on an active link if you go for the first option.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't assume malice here

          you are then reliant on apps frequently polling for data to get their updates. Not good for apps that may have open pipelines sitting idle awaiting a notification or update.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't assume malice here

            > you are then reliant on apps frequently polling for data to get their updates.

            I think this belongs to a higher level in the network stack than what the original poster referred to, nevertheless I'm not sure I agree.

            > Not good for apps that may have open pipelines sitting idle awaiting a notification or update.

            If I was in that situation and I was bandwidth constrained (e.g., by having an expensive link or a capped link budget) and I had no choice but to use long-lived connections that spend a lot of time idling (a substandard option but one we're commonly forced to take these days), in that case I would be using TCP keepalives and proceed more or less as stated above.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      "Don't assume malice here "

      It is Google, which means malice is not assumed, but *given*. Google doesn't do anything by accident and spying users is their only income.

      What world do you live in, again?

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Don't assume malice here

        Spying on users is actually over 100% of Google's profit. The ad business (which requires spying, or at least requires it if you want to make as much as Google does at it) makes money, and everything else collectively loses money!

    6. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      It is easy to tell if it all pings or not. They are sent in the clear.

    7. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Don't assume malice here

      "Suppose you want to fail over between links at most 5 seconds after the link becomes unresponsive; that means doing some kind of connectivity test every 5 seconds."

      No it doesn't. If any other application is actually using the link, no additional connectivity test is required. You simply observe the lack of acks. If no other application is using the link, you don't need to test every 5 seconds. (Having identified a problem. diagnosing it might involve some traffic like you suggest, but that is "once every drop-out" rather than every five minutes.)

  9. heyrick Silver badge

    I got bitten by this once

    A few years ago, my contract (then 500MB/month) stopped allowing data mid month. At the time I had an app that automatically took copies of installed apps.

    I discovered many versions of Google Play Services, all different sizes. The only thing I can think is the signal (2G in those days) was bad, so the download failed and it retried from the beginning, and again, and again, and again, and must have spent hours (when I was at work) burning through data on a ridiculously incompetent downloader that was not able to detect bad data and retry, or resume, or give up.

    I now turn data off when the phone isn't in my pretence. Does rather help improve battery life.

    Oh, and fuck Google for completely ignoring the "only update over WiFi" because they're somehow special and eating up hundreds of megabytes on shitty code is totally cool. They're just lucky that my provider terminated data access rather than something nasty like €5 per additional megabyte...

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Rabid marketing

    First, disable Google Search. This drains bandwidth, storage, and battery more than anything else. Second, disable background data for everything that doesn't need it. Most Android apps are linked to marketing collection libraries. Third, enable power restrictions on apps that don't need to (and shouldn't) run in the background. This can help prevent Google Maps and other Googley spyware from tracking your location and analyzing your activities.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: disable Google Search

      Also the voice input and the Google keyboard. Use a different keyboard without mic feature or that has it as an option.

      If it's Google Go, then put on the Nova Launcher to get rid of search as you can't turn off Google Search on Go. Then set search to Nova and disable it.

      ALWAYS replace the Google Keyboard and then disable it. Yes, 3rd party ones are a risk, which Andriod warns you about.

      Disable location in all the different settings including your Google account.

  11. Arkybarky1

    Android data robbery

    I routinely shut off my data when not using it. My WiFi n Bluetooth are always off unless I am actually using them n then they r disabled immediately. I also turn off every apps ability to access Background usage. You have to go to Settings>Apps n then open each app n disable Background data. While u r there also disable every Permission u can (camera,microphone etc). My Location is always OFF unless absolutely needed. All of the above are live n transmitting data when your phone is on so kill them n lower your unasked 4 data usage. Btw, I find that I have to redo this regularly as somehow the Permissions get changed without my knowledge or consent.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Android data robbery

      Llamalab's Automate can help you. Set a profile along the lines of "see home wifi, turn off mobile data & bluetooth", or "between 11pm and 7am, be in airplane mode"

    2. Dr. Ellen

      Re: Android data robbery

      I have a portable computer, which I keep in airplane mode unless I need a phone. Saves data allowance and annoyance.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Android data robbery

        These suggestions are all useful but as has been highlighted earlier are absolutely no help to the 99.999% of users who simply don't understand about this sort of stuff.

        The issue is that it that the phone is doing this in the first place, it should not be up to the user to install a heap of 3rd party apps or disabling functions an attempt to stop it using data that is only for the benefit of Google.

    3. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Android data robbery

      Beware, one Samsung phones, Samsung Pay will reset itself to its defaults, every time, whether you tell it to, or not. I just checked and had to force-stop that damn app again, which btw, has used 7.7G (are you fucking kidding me) and 7.7KB since yesterday when I turned it off last.

  12. Sleep deprived
    Thumb Down

    Just as I was thinking of getting a 250Mb/month* data plan...

    That would be barely enough to feed the Beast...

    * Canada's Public Mobile's 13$/month plan. I have so far stayed away from our highest-in-the-world cell rates with a call & SMS-only limited plan.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Just as I was thinking of getting a 250Mb/month* data plan...

      > getting a 250Mb/month data plan

      That is coincidentally the exact amount of data "Google Play" alone* has gobbled on my phone since the start of this month (and we're just the 14th)...

      Note that updates are both manual and WiFi-only.

      * According to my phone's own data usage statistics. Also note that due to the general situation, that phone has been left switched off most of the time, for days in a row, but apparently that doesn't stop it from conversing assiduously (again, according to its own statistics).

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Just as I was thinking of getting a 250Mb/month* data plan...

        Since we're trading anecdotes, my phone has used a hair-raising 5.7 Mb of cellular data this month on "system apps and services", of which by far the largest part (4 Mb) is "Google play services". And I pay $10 a month for 100 minutes of domestic calling, unlimited texts and 250 Mb of data.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Just as I was thinking of getting a 250Mb/month* data plan...

          > the largest part (4 Mb) is "Google play services"

          I'd really want to understand why yours only required 4 MB when mine used 250 MB.

          Do you per chance leave WiFi enabled, or did enable it occasionally? That would explain why your "Google Play" only consumed so little cellular data - It did the bulk over WiFi.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Just as I was thinking of getting a 250Mb/month* data plan...

            My numbers are similar to veti's and I certainly have WiFi left on. It only uses my home and work networks, but (particularly this year) that accounts for 99% of my whereabouts anyway.

          2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Just as I was thinking of getting a 250Mb/month* data plan...

            Depending on your OS version, you may have details on the data usage or not.

            Usually you'd have to look under "system apps", and it will include all the pre-installed apps.

            On Android 10 I can deactivate access to Mobile Data on an individual basis.

            The only one that is complaining is the "Android System", and it states explicitly that it "To make sure that your devices works normally, a few Android system apps will still use your mobile data connection and may generate minor charges from your carrier".

            One thing missing obviously: a global easy to find switch to deactivate in one step all the "mobile data" usage for these system apps (then you only need to reactivate what is really needed).

  13. Mage Silver badge

    Not surprising

    There is an extra nearly hidden setting on some versions of Android: Also disable background transfers on Mobile that happen even if you disable Mobile Data. Or some similar name.

    I've found my meagre data allowance getting eaten. I only buy a basic €15 call credit for voice calls and SMS on rare (even rarer with Covid) times I'm out. I've only ever used WiFi for data.

    I've noted that it seems to be very active on WiFi even if doing nothing, so by default BT and WiFi are also off and WiFi only enabled when needed.

    Separate Nasty Issues not Google's fault.

    Also without buying occasional call credit the obnoxious companies eventually disable your SIM. Also they have silently reduced life of call credit from 1 year to 6 months.

  14. chivo243 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Vacation burner phone in the US

    I had to buy a burner phone on vacation, my iPhone wouldn't recognize the US SIM card... It was AT&Ts branded android. I blew through the data plan in less than 12 hours out of the box. Turning services off stopped the slurp, but crippled it, going back in and finding the needed google play\store\service when you needed it was a PITA. For a few weeks of vacation, it was hell, and not worth the frustration. It also required a google account to set it up, that phone wreaked havoc with my google calendar, I still see some oddities from time to time.

  15. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Standard operating procedure

    Now we know why the phone companies are offering such nice discounts when you buy two or three new Android phones from them. It's like HP selling cheap printers because the users have to keep buying ink.

  16. Joe Drunk
    Mushroom

    Disable background data

    I noticed this too and was very annoyed that there was no way to prevent it. Worse still was Google's indifference to users' complaint on various forums.

    This probably depends on your model handset but on all my Galaxy phones if you go to Data Usage it will show you all apps that use data sorted by usage. If you click on any app it will have a box labeled "Restrict Background Data". I unticked EVERYTHING except the Transparent Clock & Weather App which uses 205 kilobytes of data daily. All Google services gave a warning that they may stop functioning altogether but I ignored this since the only Google service I use occasionally is Play Store.

    Works fine. Now the only time my mobile data is used is when I open an app that requires internet (I am now in control of my data usage, not Google). Two middle fingers to you Google.

    1. triplebeamdreams

      Re: Disable background data

      not true, they still use data, even disabling all apps..

      google play services takes data even with background data disabled

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Disable background data

        That's true, but it's not exactly network-breaking levels of data... In a month my phone used

        10.13 MB "Carrier Services"

        8.71 MB "Google Play Services"

        2.07 MB "Android OS"

        0.93 MB "Google Play Store"

        I have disabled apps and / or restricted background data usage as much as I can, always leave my phone off overnight and use pi-hole... Google no doubt still know far more about me than I'd like, but unfortunately it's almost impossible to do my job without be forced into using their services in some way.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My wife pays £7.70/month for unlimited calls and texts, plus 4GB mobile data, from Vodafone for her iPhone 6S. Rarely manages to use 1GB of that - but it's good to know it's there if needed (and there aren't many better deals for the number of calls she makes. My contract is £16/month with 20GB of data. Even if I turn wifi off and rely solely on 4G, I've never managed to get my use above 6GB/month - for the iPhone (I can use more when I tether my laptop to it).

    Of course, neither of us are avid online gamers, or stream incessant videos...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don’t use android

    Ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don’t use android

      After using Android since v2 came out, perhap even earlier, untill two years ago. That's almost a decade, I came to the same conclusion as you.

      I really hated Apple and especially their arrogant users, but I needed a new phone and got a discounted 6s. Haven't looked back since , it's a lovely phone physically and the OS and Apps just works, unlike my many bad experiences ith Android over the years.

      iOS can be a PITA to navigae and lack of customisation options, but as a work device it...WORKS totally reliably and high quality audio and video calls.

      Oh, that, and as an old phone it still get's all the OS updates...launched with iOS 9 and currently mie is on 14.2, smooth and powerful enough for everything. Best £350 I've ever spent on a phone. In 2021 when updates run out on this one, I'll be getting the SE2020. Android will never see me again. My favourite phone OS was Windows, but that's history, unfortunately.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Don’t use android

        Updates won't run out on your 6S in 2021. Even if iOS 15 doesn't support it (which no one outside of Apple knows for sure) I'm sure it will be supported on iOS 14 for security updates for some time after. The 5S and 6 that were dropped with iOS 13 are still getting patches to 12.4.x with the most recent arriving just a week or so ago. Making that 7 years of support and still counting for the 5S....

      2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: Don’t use android

        I have a phone on a AU$20/year plan mainly to receive calls (PAYG) and I've never turned on mobile data. If I need to do "something" it is always WiFi.

        After reading this, I do not want to turn on mobile data or I'll have to ransom my left kidney.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Don’t use android

      So, use Apple? Over priced and even more opaque.

      Windows phones- gone to that great bit bucket in the sky.

      What can you buy in the shops other than Google or Apple's offerings?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So, use Apple? Over priced and even more opaque.

        overpriced, but I saw some 2nd hand apples in a local store for around 150 - 160 GBP, that's fairly reasonable (for an apple). While I'd never touch an apple, this was a "6" and I've seen my wife use the same for the last 3 - 4 years, I must say, she's happy with it. It does what it's supposed to. Although lack of control would be a no-no for me.

      2. Screwed

        Re: Don’t use android

        Does Huawei's EMUI do the same?

        I know it is based on Android. Be somewhat ironic if Huawei effectively scoops up far less data and, of that, sends effectively none to China.

      3. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: Don’t use android

        "So, use Apple? Over priced and even more opaque."

        https://www.apple.com/privacy

        How is this opaque? Unless they're lying through their teeth, which... well let's face it, they're not, this is as clear as it gets. Privacy is a fundamental right which Apple recognises AND charges for - there's a pure financial motive here - whereas Google doesn't recognise it or charge for it hence why handsets are cheaper.

        It's horses for courses. Happy to trade privacy for a cheaper handset? Go Android. Prefer to keep you, your data and your stuff private? Apple's (one of) the far better ways to go.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

          Re: Don’t use android

          Are you sure?

          Apple sold your information wholesale when they agreed to be paid by Alphabet to set Google as your default search engine.

          Never trust a company if its name starts by an "A"...

          (you can also add in the USA C, V, Y, ... all the letters of the latin alphabet in fact - and don't forget the numbers when you are at it)

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

            Re: Don’t use android

            “ Are you sure?... Apple sold your information wholesale...”

            Yes I’m sure, and no they didn’t. Sigh.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Don’t use android

        "What can you buy in the shops other than Google or Apple's offerings?"

        One of Nokia's retro offerings? Specialist "feature phone" for the blind/elderly? Obviously, none of those are smart phones ...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Firewall

    Surprised nobody has mentioned this yet, but running your phone without a properly configured firewall is just like running your computer without one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Firewall

      I'm technically disadvantaged, but I thought firewall blocks traffic only on wifi, not mobile connection, doesn't it?

      1. eldel

        Re: Firewall

        NoRoot Firewall has different permissions for cell data and wi-fi. My data plan usage fell dramatically when I installed that and basically blocked everything but messages and browser.

  20. TRT Silver badge

    Not a shock

    My firewall / gateway traffic analysis shows huge data uploads to Google servers, overnight usually, from iOS and Android devices alike.

    1. Tim99 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Not a shock

      You use Google? Well there's your problem...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Not a shock

        Actually... no. Not really. Just the searching bit of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a shock

      "huge data uploads to Google servers, overnight usually"

      That's your personal files, to be checked for bits that can be sold for profit...

  21. cb7

    I hope Google get their arse ripped wide open by this.

    I doubt Joe Public will see a penny of any penalty Google get slapped with though.

  22. martinusher Silver badge

    This probably just crept up on everyone

    Knowing programmers as I do they won't necessarily think 'big picture', they'll just transfer data at regular intervale because its something they know how to do. They won't think about the mechanics of a protocol -- the actual data transferred is just the tip of the iceberg -- or about the cost because when they developed this code it just wasn't a parameter that was part of the specification.

    Now they're aware they might be a bit more parsimonious, especailly if there's a lawsuit to get their attention. They really aren't the only offender; they might be the sloopiest but bandwidth usage -- and hogging -- is endemic, its a blight on applications development. It also offers a potential 'in' for an Andriod alternative; currently everyone uses Goggle's software stack because its convenient and everyone else is doing it (ignore Apple for the moment). If some event occurs that forces a substantial part of the user base away from Andriod then there's plenty of scope for the new operating system to tidy up, not only saving users money but also making much more effective use of mobile bandwidth, something that's a big selling point in many places where bandwiidth is either not easy to come by or expensive.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: This probably just crept up on everyone

      This is not a design by programmers, it has been designed at the highest level. The strategy is to spy.

  23. -tim
    Devil

    For more fun look at how the apps talk to each other

    You can install one of the application firewalls where you can see just how all the applications are chatting with each other for a real shock. The mail app will talk to the map and vice versa. Many other apps are talking to apps that makes no sense at all. A friends Google branded phone was sending more than 8,000 messages a second between a multitude of apps.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: For more fun look at how the apps talk to each other

      It reminds me of a time on Windows when Outlook was checking ALL the application messages, not only the ones that were intended for it...

      Which may explain why you still see recommendations to close all other apps when installing or uninstalling an application.

  24. nojobhopes

    Missing the point?

    Irrelevant talk about turning off mobile data or the cost of data in the USA. Google should grab only what can be justified as necessary, and tell us what that is, in their privacy policy. It is becoming law in most parts of the world.

    $$$? The accusers want more than their $8+ back. They also want the dosh Google made by selling their private data to advertisers. The article says "The lawsuit seeks to recover the fair market value of the co-opted cellular data and the "reasonable value of the cellular data used by Google to extract and deliver information that benefited Google,""

    Microsoft? Just you wait until someone does the same with Windows 10. A friend runs his desktop PC with data off!

    1. needmorehare
      Big Brother

      Re: Missing the point? - nope

      I don't think folks are missing the point here.

      Google is entitled to the data the customer agrees to transmit (as per Terms of Service) in exchange for the services Google provides to the customer. One could say the "fair market value" of the services provided by Google far outweighs what the plaintiff can claim through damages in many cases. A lawsuit which wants to claim damages based upon "reasonable value of the cellular data used by Google to extract and deliver information that benefited Google" can be answered by the defendant illustrating the "reasonable value of the cellular data used by Google to extract and deliver information that benefited the plaintiff" as part of the contractual agreement between Google and the plaintiff. As nerds, we already realise this subconsciously when we use these sorts of services.

      For example, Google Maps is undeniably the best maps application available as a result of the data Google collects from all of us collectively by providing soft real-time traffic updates, public transport information and by hooking into venue-related info to determine availability of restaurants, pubs, businesses etc. Likewise, with full personalisation enabled, Google Search can provide answers to queries without the user having to input any context. I would also hazard a guess the plaintiff uses websites with reCAPTCHA deployed and benefits from automatic authentication based upon the benefits of Google tracking their web activity and determining them to be human.

      In terms of Windows 10, I don't think people realise the benefits that data collection provides to every single non-technical user of the OS.

      Microsoft will stage new drivers and feature updates in batches to what it believes are more technical users first and only after everything appears to work will it send them to everyone. This improves overall IT reliability and also allows the people who would naturally want updates first to get them before others. They then collect telemetry info to see if they've made any mistakes. This is great engineering.

      Then look at AppCompat and how telemetry allows Microsoft to identify how to make older applications work based upon what technical users do to make things work. Every time I override Exploit Protection settings to make an older application work, Microsoft logs this automatically on my behalf and when enough technical users do this, the AppCompat database will be updated with the override already added so that less technical users do not have to make the same change. This saves many people a lot of time which could be better spent enjoying life.

      Extend that effect to OS security, where Windows Defender now offers Zero Tolerance Mode to people who are willing to opt-in to a benign form of spying where the OS transmits hashes and metadata related to every executable ran on the computer. If you run something not commonly ran anywhere else which came from the Internet and wasn't digitally signed by a trusted entity, Windows Defender will block it by default and send the executable to Microsoft for analysis. Without Microsoft collecting data in bulk like this, they couldn't provide this level of protection to end-users. This level of protection is what people across the Internet used to praise both Kaspersky and PrevX for (the latter of which only charged you for an anti-virus subscription if you ever got infected, making the first remediation free).

      Only a few months ago I was complaining about privacy but then I decided to experiment with the alternative (allowing all the spying) and was surprised to see just how altruistic and decent the motives for data collection really are and how the only real victims are actually small businesses; who pay loads of money for data driven ad space without provably making a penny from doing so.

      1. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point? - nope

        As far as i am concerned no business has a right to any of my information. I do NOT want reccomendations of more s**t to buy. I do not want adverts. (I live in the UK and TV adverts are something i only have to suffer slightly as I record lots of stuff to watch later, most sports only have infrequent adverts. Football before/after and at half time. F1 before and after the race.)

        1. arachnoid2 Bronze badge

          Re: Missing the point? - nope

          Sports have continual visual adverts in the background and on the players shirts or are you subliminally blind to them?

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Missing the point? - nope

            I suspect that most people are subliminally blind to those ads. They strike me as utterly pointless. If I already know the brand, I'm learning nothing new because they only state the name. If I don't, I'm not going to google them just because I saw it on a hoarding at a football match. Either way, what was the effing point of that?

            Presumably the advertisers have some cod psychology theory about how it works even if you don't believe in it, and presumably the buyers are taken in by this because everyone else on the B-ark tells them it is true. But actual evidence? I doubt any exists.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Missing the point? - nope

              The principle is that people order the brand that pops into their heads. Familiarity sells just as much as sex. Maybe more. Hence the cheap and nasty ads that just repeat the name of the product lots.

      2. nojobhopes

        Re: Missing the point? - nope

        You make a couple of good points.

        - A lot of telemetry is used to improve products. Microsoft used usage stats from Office when deciding which icons to put first on the Ribbon (hated because of the way it was rolled out but overall beneficial).

        - Google is providing this stuff for free. We should be paying for great maps but don't have to. Quid pro quo.

        Maybe if platforms and advertisers were more careful to hide the clear link between what pages we visit on one site and the ads we see the next site, we wouldn't be so suspicious.

  25. Colin Miller

    determing mobile data destination

    How do you tell what servers your phone is connecting to over mobile data? Over WiFi it's reasonably easy - install Wireshark on the hotspot or another device that can eavesdrop.

    But unless you are running your own basestation (not impossible, but beyond most peoples' abilities), or root it for TcpDump to work, I don't know how to grab the data.

  26. Kev99

    Huh...And all this time I thought "mobile data" was what I used when I used on of the apps on my phone do anything.Like weather updates, maps, etc.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just reflash with SailfishOS and forget Google

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      This serves, possibly, for the miniscule group of very techie types that could do this and don't need to be tied in to the google/Apple system to use Android/IOs software to interact with anyone else on the planet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        which suits me fine :-)

  28. Confuciousmobil

    Simple answer.

    Stick to iPhone.

    Problem solved.

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Simple answer.

      You'll get downvoted to Hell and back here for saying that.

      Doesn't mean you're not right though.

      1. Long John Silver
        Pirate

        Re: Simple answer.

        Why should anybody care about being down-voted? Setting aside the obviously inane, which tend to be ignored anyway, negative popularity contributions turn out either to be interesting mavericks or to have tweaked the tail of some 'entitled' state or commercial entity.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Simple answer.

      Do you really believe that Apple is not doing the exact same thing?

      Only this weekend, I was reading that iOS sends telemetry back to the mothership about what you're running and when

  29. That 8 Bit Guy

    How much do I get?

    So if this does get to the class action part of the lawsuit, and enter it, are we expecting to get only $0.25 of the settlement cheque and waive any future claims against Google Android?

  30. Andy3

    I only have a mobile because my wife insists (it's one of her cast-offs), but it spends 99.9% of it's time turned off, and I mean OFF. No power. Trouble is when I do want to use it (about twice a year) I have to wait about 10 minutes for it to remember what it is....

    1. Adelio Silver badge

      I have had a mobile phone for over 20 years and just do not use it a lot.

      Since lockdown it is by my side all day but to be frank I just ignore it. My wife keeps complaining that i have missed texts. I used to use it a bit more BEFORE lockdown, but kust to look at the BBC website.

      I do NOT use twitter. Facebook gets opened a couple of times a year. Whatsapp i use to call our sons and I also have a group that I keep in contact with. (But more of the time I just forget to look)

      I do not use maps because i have satnav in the car, and to be frank i only use the car satnave a few times a year.

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Satknaves

        I have satknaves in my car before but I prefer to call them 'backseat drivers'.

        1. quxinot Silver badge

          Re: Satknaves

          What I'd give for a 'mute' setting for mine.

  31. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Not in the EEA they don't!

    "Android users have to accept four agreements to participate in the Google ecosystem: Terms of Service; the Privacy Policy"

    Within the EEA, a "privacy policy" is not a contract between the data subject and the data controller. It's a legally binding unilateral declaration by the data controller to the data subject.

    Requiring "consent" to a privacy policy is therefore unlawful, as, in accordance with a 2017 ruling of the Article 29 Working Party (now the European Data Protection Board), only one lawful basis may be asserted for each processing activity. This is to prevent "fall back" in the aftermath of objections. For example, if specific processing is conducted on the basis of consent and that consent is withdrawn, the data controller can not subsequently assert reliance on legitimate interest in order to continue the processing for which consent was withdrawn. Consequently, unless the entirety processing is conducted on the basis of consent, other bases must be used for specific processing activities, in which case "requiring" consent to the "policy" as a whole superimposes consent on top of the other lawful bases, contrary to the ruling.

    However, consent as the basis for the entirety of processing is not a feasible option for most organisations. Where consent is the lawful basis of processing as a condition of providing a service, that processing must be strictly necessary for provision of the service to the data subject and its scope can not mandatorily be extended to processing not strictly necessary for the provision of that service. So for example, I can't lawfully make it mandatory for you to accept snooping cookies if consent is the basis for sign up to read articles on my web site (which is why El Reg quite rightly has that banner on it pages).

  32. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Let me get this right...

    Let me get this right, people who chose the operating system of their smartphone from a known data-hoarder have had massive amounts of their data from the hoarded by the aforementioned company.

    Can we have an article from people who bought Apple gear complaining that it was unncessarily expensive and that it is not right?

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Let me get this right...

      It's a very fair point, and reminds me of the story about the man who found a baby ferret in the woods and brought it home with him. He raised it, nurtured it, cared for it and loved it, all while people around him told him that ferrets were wild, untameable animals, and one day it would turn on him. He ignored them, because he loved that ferret. Then one day he was walking into town with the ferret in his pocket, where it had comfortably sat since it was a kit, and suddenly the ferret dived into his trousers and bit one of his balls off.

      When he came out of hospital after surgery to reattach the recently unhitched knacker, the man asked the ferret; I trusted you, loved you and nurtured you, I thought we were friends? Why would you do such a terrible thing?

      And the ferret answered: because I'm a ferret.

      Moral: Google is not your friend. You chose an operating system from a company that is very clear and open about its motives and how it makes its money, don't act surprised when it does exactly what it (and everybody else) said it was going to do.

  33. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Buster

    We should realise that, while we think of ourselves as users, as far as advertisers are concerned we are a collection of commodities, and to Google, nothing more than AI training serfs training AIs' so that Google can further, and more efficiently, exploit us. Happy Monday!

  35. ChrisC607

    So if this surprises anyone, I'd be surprised. With everything that is sucking our data around, Google is a know leader in that. The amount of data relative to it's effects on costs are not worth mentioning. And the average price per gig is not 1$. And the amount that would be won per person is not worth anyone's time in this lawsuit.

    Now, let's take a look at the real villain here. Who stands to benefit off of this lawsuit the most? The law firm. They would make a killing off of just getting a few cents off of every single person using an android phone. Now say they got it for a buck a month. That would be $12 a year. Let's just use a round number for simplicity and say 10 years of Google doing this. That means $120 for ever person using an android phone. Lets say the law firm is getting 30% of that. That's around $39. Multiplied times the amount of people using an android phone. They will make millions. But there is no way they will get $1 a month because that number is ridiculous. And the lawsuit is not well thought out. A massive portion of us have unlimited data. Therefore all of them people would not even count.

    Now, before we think about the barely mentionable amount of data value that Google uses, that 90% of the population likely already suspects or knows that they do, how much do we think this lawsuit will cost the taxpayers in court costs?

    And Google may be an insanely huge giant and they may not always do what we would like them to do, they do provide an incredibly large amount of services and benefits to us. There really isn't anyone that doesn't benefit from their services. Even an Apple user or someone that doesn't own a phone at all. Someone along the supply chain is using android phones for their drivers or a warehouse to keep tabs on their inventory or.... The benefits we all receive from Google are uncountable.

    This is a ridiculous lawsuit that only benefits the law firm. It will cost tax dollars from every American and it will use resources, and potentially cost a vast amount of money from a company we all need and benefit from. For something that anyone with common sense knows is happening. If they want to make a legitimate change, they should petition legislation to make laws to stop it. Not waste our money and negatively affect Google for a couple bucks. Just my opinion.

  36. triplebeamdreams

    Even after disabling everything, google still takes my data

    i disabled everything

    google play services still takes my data

    i use the nexus 5x as a gps tracker for my car

    i only have a 100mb data plan

    they take more data than the gps tracker app!

  37. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Yeah sorry, but given the number of times the Reg has given Apple a kicking for - you know - selling stuff that people actually want and are prepared to pay for, I'm going to go with a big fat HAHAHA on this. Google monetises you, your data and anything else they can get their hands on, and sells this to third parties - heading into every legal gray area they can to get access. THAT's why the handsets are cheaper than Apple, because the money comes from a different place.

    Don't like your data being sold on to others? Don't buy Android. And don't tell me Apple's the same, because they're just not. Apple's privacy stance is worlds apart.

    Fandroids downvote all you like. You either know I'm right, are misinformed, or are in denial.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Holmes

      Don't worry, Apple is on its way to emulate Google...

      Apple apps on Big Sur bypass firewalls and VPNs — this is terrible

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        That’s an interesting article and potentially worrying, but it’s discussing a potential security issue; not privacy. If Apple’s systems work as designed, your privacy is safeguarded. If Google’s systems work as designed, you have no privacy.

  38. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Rooting may not be an option even when feasible

    Rooting a device offers full user control. However, I am deterred from doing this because my banking application, perhaps others too, would refuse to operate. That is a security precaution protecting bank and customers.

    Google has dug itself into a position whereby it not only directly controls many activities on a device but by doing so also places constraint upon how individual users and independent commercial entities may interact with it. Thus, because I need the banking application I am limited to anti-Google measures short of rooting.

  39. Dr Gerard Bulger

    Agree. it is the arrogance these companies have assume the internet data is free. In Falklands that would cost me £10 plus. Its difficult to stop this chatter. Worse if using satellite expensive. The only way I found is to set up a proxy server external and kill any default internet connection.

    https://bulger.co.uk/satellitecost.htm

    https://bulger.co.uk/satellitecost2.htm

    Good luck to them!

    Gerry

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ads? Android has ads?

  41. woody14619

    Something they may get thrown out for...

    While I'm sure there's some data transfer, I think they goofed big time and will get thrown out for this. Their tests were with a Samsung Galaxy class device. Samsung changed the Google image significantly before releasing it, including adding their own UI manager and changing lots of defaults (like adding their store certificate to the list of trusted vendors). Testing a Samsung device and then blaming Google is a sure fire way to get tossed out. If they really want to make this a true test, they should have done it on a Pixel, or something Google itself manufactures. Or, included Samsung in the suite, so they would attempt to blame each other, making the prosecutions job easier.

    1. bdg2

      Re: Something they may get thrown out for...

      Good point. The Samsung stuff often includes useless buggy rubbish far more likely to be accidentally using data than the Google stuff.

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