If you thought Google already had a lot of data on you, think again. Apparently, according to a new report, Google has an internal program called "Android Lockbox" where Googlers can monitor Android users time and interactions with different apps. Usually those that are competing with Google's own apps.
The service works through Google Mobile Services, which means that employees are able to see this data about other apps on any device that has been certified to use Google services. This data will show how often an app is used and how long it has been used.
This data is used to keep tabs on competitors
The Information, who broke this story, says that its sources claim the information has been used to keep tabs on its rivals. Like those rivaling Gmail. Or to see how much time people are spending on Facebook or Instagram.
However, in order to get access to this program, employees do have to request permission, and in some cases requests have been denied. So it's not just any Googler in Mountain View that can see this data, thankfully.
Google claims that this data will allow Google to offer a more personalized experience, but it also provides data for competitive research to Google.
Google's CEO is due to testify in an antitrust hearing very soon
Of course, this report couldn't have come out at a worst time for Google. As its CEO, Sundar Pichai, is due to testify in front of Congress rather soon, over antitrust issues. And you can bet that members of Congress will definitely ask Pichai about this.
Google is also facing an antitrust investigation by almost every US state, as well as by the US Justice Department. Though, these investigations are supposedly focusing on its search and ad business. That doesn't mean they can't expand it to the Android business.