All modern smartphones—including iPhones—contain hardware that monitors users’ activities and locations. But McNamee and many experts argue that Androids are unique in the extent to which they collect and retain user information. Much of this data is collected even when a phone is off-line, then uploaded to Google’s servers and integrated into an archive that includes your search, Gmail, and Google Docs history. The Android platform finds information in your apps and your online activity, and often makes this information available to third parties, like advertisers. A user agreement also gives Google Assistant the right to record conversations that occur within earshot of the device’s microphone.
Roger McNamee made a fortune as one of Silicon Valley’s earliest champions. Now he’s one of its most fervent critics.