Palm’s leaking mobile phone miscue

Matt Hartley writing for Lockergnome reports on a disturbing privacy problem with the Palm Pre, citing a BBC story. The detail of data being sent back to Palm is rather alarming, including user location, application usage patterns, and a list of applications installed on the phone.

Palm’s PR department, of course, responds with more spin than a Steve Mizerak masse shot. Quoting the BBC article:

Palm issued a statement about Mr Hess’ discovery and said it “offers users ways to turn data collecting services on and off”.

It added: “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.”

“We appreciate the trust that users give us with their information, and have no intention to violate that trust,” said Palm.

Excuse me Palm, but I really think you just did exactly that. I would be willing to bet it has been intentionally made difficult to turn off the “data collecting services” you refer to.

It’s inexcusable to leak that kind of detailed data and bury it under some kind of legalese “privacy policy.” How about being honest about this and telling the user, in plain English, you’re going to do this the first time the phone is turned on?

And we wonder why Palm nearly went bankrupt. Wonder no more. At least now we know this time they’re going to sink for a good reason.