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Google plans to kill mobile FinTech and CoVid-19 Track and Trace - and to do it soon.

Nigel Morris-Co...

Google is threatening to kill Android phones if users do not provide personal information.

There are several versions of the threat issued by Google where its persuasion has failed.

Google is facing two problems: first, its own message demands the information and then says it will be used to the customer's detriment and secondly, people no longer trust it.

Google says that it needs customers to provide their date of birth "to comply with the law." Later, it changed that message to "to help us comply with the law." But at no point does it say what law it wants to comply with. In one of its many inconsistent pages, it says "to comply with the law in your country." That, of itself, demonstrates the reality that even though mobile users turn off their location settings and tell Google not to store them from e.g. Maps and Waze, Google still tracks them, probably by IP address which it does not offer users the option of denying to Google.

Another of the pages demands that it be done "within 14 days" but it does not define a starting point for that clock.

The requirement is a broad-brush approach which is, in any case, farcical. It relates to accounts registered to gmail accounts (the only means of accessing Android's "Play Store." But it is sending the message to accounts that have been in use for so many years that the owners must be adults by now.

When Google started this process, many people were upset and messages on bulletin boards started to appear suggesting 01.01.2001 be inserted. Google's response has been to say that it requires scans of identification documents issued by a government or a credit card to which a charge will be made and refunded. Then, Google says, it will discard that information. Do you believe it? Or do you think it will be archived, as Facebook does with your data? You should: Google's terms and conditions have long said that anything you put on their servers becomes their property, just as Facebook does. A note on random webpage cannot be held to vary those terms and conditions.

This goes beyond date of birth which, in yet another page, Google says it needs to ensure that it is not delivering services to those who, by reason of age restriction. Fine: it already does that with YouTube for some videos. But far from all. It is not clear whether that age-related information is transferred to other Google services.

The thing that really demonstrates why Google have it wrong is that the demand for provision of information, apparently for identification purposes, is accompanied by a notice that Google will use that information to more accurately target advertising.

So it's not about the legitimacy of serving ads to those below a certain age, it's about profiling. Google already has our phone numbers, it has our broad location through IP collection and storage of directions requests through mapping software. The abolition of Google + means, in theory, that it doesn't have details of our everyday lives but that's not actually true - it gets it from other social media platforms. It has access to e-mail for hundreds, if not thousands, of milllions of email accounts (which it clearly does not police or spammers would find their accounts suspended within moments of campaigns starting).

The big danger is that Google will carry out its explicit threat to close services where the personal information and verification is not supplied. If it closes your gmail account, that denies access to the Android store "Google Play." That means that your mobile phone will no longer be able to install Apps and that it will no longer receive updates. That includes security updates.

That means all your payment apps will die or not be maintained securely.

You will not be able to pay for parking or road tolls where an App is the only method available.
You will not be able to use any electronic wallet to pay for anything from your phone.
You will not be able to transfer money to friends and relatives from your phone.
You will not be able to use your crypto-asset trading accounts from your phone.
You will not be able to do on-line shopping from your phone.
You will not be able to book a Grab, Uber or Lyft.
You will not be able to get food deliveries using your phone.
You will not be able to register in e.g. shops and restaurants using Track and Trace for CoVid-19 purposes.
You will not be able to use messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Telegram and all the others.
You will not be able to use social media from your phone so it's goodbye to TikTok, Instagram and Facebook unless you go home and use a PC.
You will not be able to read the news on your phone because even browsers are installed and maintained via the Play Store.

In short, your electronic life is about to come to an end if you don't do exactly as Google tells you.

All those pushing FinTech from a regulatory perspective have entirely failed to take account of the fact that no matter what control they exercise over the App itself, they do not have any say in the underlying infrastructure.

So much for "do no evil," as Google's mission statement.

That leaves you with a choice: your privacy vis-à-vis Google or your life on your phone.

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