A PYMNTS Company

Google’s Data Collection On Competing Apps Raises New Antitrust Concerns

 |  July 27, 2020

According to The Information, the “Android Lockbox” keeps track of basic app stats like launch frequency and session duration, as well as usage at a per-country level. Internal documents describe it as a “service that collects sensitive Android user data,” though it is anonymized and not tied to individual accounts.

The report identifies a “Magic Eye” team within Google that’s tasked with tracking first-party app usage and leverages Lockbox data to brief executives on how third-party services compare.

Lockbox is part of the Google Mobile Services bundle that includes defaults like Gmail and Drive. The company confirmed to The Information that it “accesses usage data on other developers’ apps through Android, but said it has provided similar functionality to external developers.”

This report stated that Lockbox recently helped the YouTube team responsible for a competing “Shorts” feature see the “behavior of Indian Android users on TikTok and its competitors, and “speed up the future launch.” However, The Information cites one example of a Googler’s request for Lockbox information being denied, so it’s not clear how freely available this “competitive data” is internally.

Meanwhile, Google glaims its “data collection on external apps is ‘obtained solely’ by a public software program in Android, which was first made available in 2014.”

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.