Google News Security

Google Photos Has Access To Your Pictures, Even After You Remove The App

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Some pretty disturbing (at least for me) news just came out according to which, Google apparently has the power to snoop upon your pictures and videos anytime it wants to — courtesy the newly renovated photos app — even if you uninstall it from your device.

The brand new Photos app, which was separated from Google Plus in May and offers some pretty awesome features such as unlimited cloud storage and a machine learning algorithm to simplify searches, has a catch that Google forgot to mention.

David Arnott, an editor at the Nashville Business Journal was one of the first to discover it when he noticed that Google was uploading his pictures on the cloud even after removing the Google Photos app from his smartphone.

Instead of my pair of test photos, I saw hundreds of images. They weren’t synced from my phone in that moment, because I always delete photos from my device once they’ve been uploaded. My phone must have been uploading pictures to Google Photos even though I didn’t even have Google Photos on my phone.

Yes sir, as recently discovered by several other unsuspecting users, who found their private pictures uploaded to the cloud even after they uninstalled Google photos, the synchronization that takes place once users install the updated Google photos, continues even after uninstalling the app — in effect allowing a third-party access to your private data — a concept which is frightening to say the least in an age and time when our smartphones are our closest companions and privy to most of our secrets.

In order to turn this unlooked-for feature off, users must first access Google setting on their device followed by turning synchronization off, which is something that most people, accustomed as they are to the simple uninstall and forget feature that Android offers for third-party apps, do not dream of doing.

The same is true for Cloud services, which in spite of quickly forming an important part of our virtual existence are mind bogglingly complex. While users may expect a service to remove itself from their lives simply because they uninstalled it, things are not quite so simple when the cloud is involved, leading to unexpected effect such as the unintended uploading of pictures, which occurred because of the fact that such services are made to span across several devices and removing the app from one does not  turn it off for the others.

While Google has declined to comment on the topic or to explain why it did not offer users a prompt to turn the service off when uninstalling, the one thing to learn here is to be extremely wary when allowing cloud syncing services to deal with your data. For all you know, that really embarrassing picture you deleted may just be safe and secure — up in the cloud.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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