Palm under fire over Pre privacy concerns

Palm is battling to assuage consumer privacy concerns in the wake of complaints that its Pre smartphone routinely collects and transmits user location and behavioral information.

Writing on his blog, software developer Joey Hess digs deep into Palm's webOS code to report that the Pre relays to Palm daily updates on a user's whereabouts, installed applications, app use and app crash logs. While Palm's privacy policy states the handset maker maintains the right to gather geographical data to bolster development and provision of location-based services, some tech experts are questioning why the company needs to collect information about application use, and why consumers were not made aware of the situation.

"As a software engineer, I can understand why Palm's engineers would be interested in the crash data, but the data gathered during a crash includes potentially private information, such as a list of all the programs running on the phone," Hess told The Register. "Also, it is much more respectful of the user to ask before sending such crash data."

Palm quickly responded to the controversy, issuing the following statement: "Palm takes privacy very seriously, and offers users ways to turn data collecting services on and off. Our privacy policy is like many policies in the industry and includes very detailed language about potential scenarios in which we might use a customer's information, all toward a goal of offering a great user experience. For instance, when location based services are used, we collect their information to give them relevant local results in Google Maps. We appreciate the trust that users give us with their information, and have no intention to violate that trust."