tablets come with spyware / was: [WEB4LIB] Low-Cost Prototype OPAC System

McLaughlin, David mclaughlind at HCPLONLINE.ORG
Wed Dec 19 09:13:49 EST 2012

I'd make the point that Google's motive to collect personal information is that they make all of their money off of advertising, and the more they know about their users the more directed their ads can be (and the higher rates they can charge advertisers). Google essentially loses money on the operating system in order to gain more eyeballs for their ads.

Apple and other companies who actually profit off of selling their software and hardware have much less of a motive to collect personal info from users. I'd contend that it's very easy to turn off any features in iOS on an iPad that "phone home". Similarly, apps usually are required by Apple to request permission of the user if they are to access or report any kind info like location. I think it's a bit of an overreaction to say that allowing a customer to use an iPad is "automatically handing over detailed information" about them.

Why would Apple want detailed info about you? They are not evil - they are simply a company trying to make a profit, and they get their money when you make your purchase. Google is also not evil, but the ad-supported model does raise more privacy concerns in my opinion.

If iOS and Android are out of the question because of privacy conspiracy theories, we could certainly mod tablets to run something like Boot2Gecko, but then nobody would want to use them…


Dave McLaughlin
Web Services Manager
Harford County Public Library
1221-A Brass Mill Road
Belcamp, MD 21017
410-273-5600 x2274
mclaughlind at

On Dec 19, 2012, at 8:04 AM, Christian Pietsch <chr.pietsch+web4lib at GOOGLEMAIL.COM> wrote:

> Hi Cary,
> interesting point! Unfortunately, using an Android or iOS tablet as a public
> terminal is probably illegal in many countries, including all EU countries --
> for valid reasons. The problem is that Google/Apple as well as many app
> creators collect personal information from users.
> In return for getting tablets at a subsidized price (the regular price),
> libraries offering such tablets to their users would automatically hand over
> detailed information about their users without their consent. Installing
> spyware-free operating systems and software may be a way out. Firefox OS
> (formerly Boot2Gecko) comes to mind. Are there other alternatives that run on
> current tablets?
> Don't get me started on e-book readers. Libraries lending them to patrons may
> already aid and abet data crime/spying:
> Cheers,
> Christian
> On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 03:52:34PM -0800, Cary Gordon wrote:
>> That said, I think that taking this approach to building a kiosk,
>> while it might be fun, is not all that efficient. My first choice
>> would be an android tablet. You can buy a name brand 10" android
>> tablet for about $200 and an off-brand for about $150 (thinking
>> WalMart).
>> I can't imagine putting together a package like that using an SBC for
>> that price. Just the monitor would be more than that.
> -- 
>  Christian Pietsch <>                                                                                                                                     
>  LibTec (Library Technology and Knowledge Management),                                                                                                                               
>  Bielefeld University Library, Bielefeld, Germany                                                                                                                                    
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