One of the most frustrating things about dealing with huge bureaucracies is the way that they consistently manage to never directly answer a question when you’re trying to find out information. That’s true whether you’re talking about the government or whether you’re talking about a large corporation.
In this case, we’re talking about the tech giant who overshadows nearly all other tech giants in terms of influence and in terms of rumors of entanglements with the deep state: Google. Jack Phillips gives us the details on what they avoided answering about:
A number of Android phone users over the past weekend reported that a COVID-19 notifications system was automatically installed on their phones without warning or consent.
Google, in a statement to several news outlets, did not confirm or deny whether the “automatically distributed” system was installed without users’ consent, while noting that “COVID-19 Exposure Notifications are enabled only if a user proactively turns it on.”
“We have been working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to allow users to activate the Exposure Notifications System directly from their Android phone settings,” the tech giant said in a statement. “This functionality is built into the device settings and is automatically distributed by the Google Play Store, so users don’t have to download a separate app. COVID-19 Exposure Notifications are enabled only if a user proactively turns it on. Users decide whether to enable this functionality and whether to share information through the system to help warn others of possible exposure.”
Unsurprisingly, Google didn’t even tell people about this until people started complaining, and people are unhappy enough about it, that they’ve completed tanked the app’s ratings in the Google Play store. See the screen shot below taken at the time of this writing.
And you can see from that first review visible in the screen shot, people are not happy about this app being installed on their phones.
I wish that I weren’t so cynical about Google’s non-response to the accusations of forced downloading, and I can’t say for sure that Google had evil intentions, but, as one person said, “How do you know when a company is evil? When their motto is ‘Do No Evil.'”
We’ll have to see if Google does the right thing and strips this app out of phones, too.