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Palm's hot Pre smart phone comes preloaded with the new webOS -- and tracks your position every day.  (Source: Sprint)
Many users have expressed concerned about the phone's transmissions home

Its always a bit embarrassing when your customers discover that you've been recording information about them that they weren't aware of.  That's exactly what happened to Apple's smart phone rival Palm, over the discovery that the phone company's Palm Pre is constantly monitoring its users.

Pre developer Joey Hess was digging around in the internals of webOS, the operating system powering the phone, when he made the discovery.  The phone apparently transmits once a day to Palm information on the Pre user's location, which application they're using, the app crash logs, and which apps the user has installed.

In response to the growing reports on the topic, Palm has gone on the offensive saying that the user monitoring is covered legally under the privacy policy and is necessary to improve the phone.

Writes Palm, "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."

The different types of data collection Palm is carrying out fall under different levels of acceptance.  In the case of application crash monitoring, this is quite typically and commonly performed in Windows, Apple's OS X, and even some Linux operating systems.  Even some browsers like Firefox offer similar features. 

Monitoring user's location is also somewhat commonplace among telecoms (and Google, reportedly), though its a much more hushed practice.  The monitoring can be used to improve network quality or offer more pertinent online information.

It is unknown whether Apple collects location information from its iPhone users, but many apps for the iPhone admittedly do.  In fact location-aware apps are becoming a hot new trend.  Some apps even offer unusual features like introductions to strangers at your current location when you're at places like the bar.




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