A Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Note Edge smartphone running the Android mobile operating system.  Photo by Bloomberg.
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Internal Google Program Taps Data on Rival Android Apps

Photo: A Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Note Edge smartphone running the Android mobile operating system. Photo by Bloomberg.

When YouTube was planning the rollout of its rival to TikTok in India earlier this month, employees turned to a valuable source of market research: how people in the country were using TikTok and its competitors on Android, the mobile operating system controlled by YouTube parent company Google.

The research was part of an unreported Google effort, internally called Android Lockbox, that has for years tapped what the company has referred to as “sensitive” data collected by Android to selectively monitor how users interact with non-Google apps, according to internal documents obtained by The Information and people familiar with the matter. In some cases, such as YouTube in India, this data helps Google advance its own competing apps, say the people, all of whom requested anonymity to speak freely. 

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