Documents, revealed during the lawsuit against Google in Arizona in the United States, show how Google knowingly hid privacy settings to collect geolocation data from Android users without their knowledge, reports Business Insider in an article published on May 29.
Worse yet, documents show the Mountain View firm pressured phone makers, like LG, to keep privacy settings hidden.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against Google in May 2020. He accuses the company of illegally stalking its users through their geolocation data without their consent and even when they have manually disabled this feature. This tracking works through certain applications, such as the weather forecast or Internet searches from the Chrome browser.
Thus, the complaint alleges that Android users must turn off phone-level tracking for Google to stop tracking them without their consent.
The documents cite several former and current Google employees. Jack Menzel, former vice president of Google Maps, admitted in testimony that the only way to prevent Google from knowing which addresses correspond to users’ homes and places of work is to voluntarily change those addresses to put fake ones. For her part, Jen Chai, Google’s product manager in charge of location services, doesn’t seem to know how the company’s privacy settings interact with each other, according to the documents.
The Irish CNIL investigates
The Data Protection Commission (DPC), the equivalent of the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil) in Ireland, opened an investigation in January 2020 on this subject following numerous complaints from European consumer associations. . These raise issues concerning the legality and transparency of the processing of geolocation data with regard to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).