[RndTbl] On forcing people to get Google accounts

Adam Thompson athompso at athompso.net
Thu Nov 3 22:32:28 CDT 2022

Ultimately, any commercial entity can do whatever they want, as long as it's not (blatantly) illegal.  You have the choice to not deal with them, at least in theory.

That theory is pretty threadbare in some cases, but that's where your only recourse is political lobbying to change the rules so they suit you better.

My personal opinion is that privacy is an illusion and the faster you get over that, the easier your life will be.  *Should* that be the case?  Hell, no!  But what options do I have other than how I vote, and how I communicate with my various elected representatives?

This isn't a technical problem.  This is a social and political (and also macroeconomic) problem.  There may exist technical workarounds, temporarily, as there often are, but they aren't solutions IMHO.

In other words, go yell at your MP, not us, it'll be - microscopically - more useful in terms of long-term solutions.

Grumpily yours,

Get Outlook for Android<https://aka.ms/AAb9ysg>
From: Roundtable <roundtable-bounces at muug.ca> on behalf of J. King <jking at jkingweb.ca>
Sent: Thursday, November 3, 2022 10:08:15 PM
To: Continuation of Round Table discussion <roundtable at muug.ca>
Subject: Re: [RndTbl] On forcing people to get Google accounts

On November 3, 2022 9:11:05 p.m. EDT, Brian Lowe <brian2 at groupbcl.ca> wrote:
>A general question for the Roundtable.
>Is it acceptable for Canadian companies to compel people to create an account with a giant
>user-hostile American advertising company in order to get stuff done in their lives?
>I'm referring to the tendency of companies to make Android apps available only through
>Google Play. In its initial incarnation, the Android App store was free to use. If you wanted an
>app for your Android device, you simply downloaded it from the store.
>No more. Now that the app store is Google Play, one /must/ create a Google account to get
>any app from it, including ones that are ostensibly "free." This requires giving Google some
>personal information, which fortunately need not be accurate. At one point I understand
>Google was requiring a valid telephone number, but that didn't happen when I signed up for a
>(throwaway) account today.
>But things get worse. One cannot simply download an APK from Google Play. /The account
>must be associated with an Android device in order to install apps. /I most certainly do not
>want to add a Google account to my Android phone; I don't trust them with the additional
>information it would give them from whatever telemetry the phone is sending. In addition,
>because they're American, they're not subject to Canadian privacy laws.
>The most egregious offender here is Shaw Communications. In order to make even basic
>changes to their BlueCurve modem (change the SSID or WiFi password, setup port forwarding
>or DMZ, apply parental controls, etc) one /must/ use their Shaw Home app. They offer no
>In truth, there is an alternative: someone kindly uploaded it to apkpure.com. But that's not the
>case for my Credit Union's app: it's not on apkpure. So if I wanted to use that app, I must
>create a Google /and/ add it to my phone.
>Why should I have to do that? Like I said, Google is a huge, user-hostile  American advertising
>company that's not subject to Canadian privacy laws. So why is it permissible for Canadian
>companies to compel me to do business with them?

If you're not worried about violating Google's terms of service you can use Aurora Store (available from F-Droid) to download and install software from Google Play without a Google account associated to you.

Obviously there's no excusing their user-hostile behaviour, but there is in fact that other option. Whether your banking software would actually work is a separate question, though, as they are, as a class, notorious for requiring SafetyNet and other proprietary Google dross.
J. King

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