New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Search engine Google is reportedly tapping on its users' data to collect information to know how its user interacts with rival Android apps via an internal program to make its own products better.

According to a report in The Information, Google has been using data from Android devices across the world to better its own apps to thwart competition. An internal program at Google called as "Android Lockbox" can provide employees access to collect “sensitive” user consented data in an anonymized form. The program is powered by Google Mobile Services and is basically a part of all Android devices out there that have access to the Play Store.

Google employees reportedly can keep a tab on sensitive data about non-google apps like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram including how many times an application has been opened and for how long it was used. The type of data collected by the Android Lockbox program can provide google an insight of the user behaviour of Android users and helps it in improving its own apps and services. 

 

The report cited that in the case of Youtube, the app turned to this data to find out the user behaviour of rival app Tiktok in India to work on improving its own services.

"When YouTube was planning the rollout of its rival to TikTok in India earlier this month, employees turned to a valuable source of market research: how people in the country were using TikTok and its competitors on Android", the report claimed.

 

According to the report, Android Lockbox starts working after google users agree to share information as part of the Android setup process, and users are informed that this data allows Google to offer a more personalised experience. 

The collected data also helps the company to analyse the competing email apps to improve its own Gmail app provides data for competitive research.

The report also claimed that Google admitted using and collecting app usage data from rival apps but noted that this data was also freely available to developers.

 "Since 2014, the Android App Usage Data API has been used by Google and Android developers who have been authorized by Android OEMs or users to access basic data about app usage -- such as how often apps are opened -- to analyze and improve services," Google Spokesperson issued a statement to the Verge.

However, it is to be noted that Google is not the only company that's been accused of collecting data through such practices. In the year 2017, Facebook used a VPN service called Onavo to monitor rival services.

Posted By: Simran Babbar