An Associated Press investigation found that Google tracks all of your movements, even after you explicitly tell it not to. As a result of the worrying revelation, activists are pressuring the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
This possible breach of privacy also prompted a man in San Diego to file a lawsuit against the tech giant. The legal action claims Google is violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act and infringing on The Golden state’s constitutional right to privacy.
AP published their investigation last week, igniting a cascade of questions from lawmakers, academics and the general public.
Google’s entire business model is based on the collection of massive amounts of data in order to deliver tailored advertising. In that sense, location information is extremely valuable to drive revenue.
“More data for them presumably means more profit,” Peter Lenz, senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a leader in data collection and online advertising, told AP.
What AP found was that Google keeps saving your location history on mobile devices after you’ve paused “Location History”. It turns out, if you want to definitively stop them from tracking you, you need to go to another setting called “Web and App Activity”.
AP journalists confirmed their findings with a team of computer science researchers at Princeton.
The disquieting discovery pushed attorneys from the Electronic Privacy Information Center to send an unyielding three-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission, calling Google out for infringing on a previous 2011 settlement.
Before the AP investigation exploded, Google’s policy simply stated: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”
Now that all eyes are on them, they’ve surreptitiously edited their policies, clarifying that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.”
Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year? Stay tuned, this one may be even bigger.