Google was hit with a privacy complaint by a group of seven European consumer watchdog agencies over what they call the company’s “deceptive” location tracking for ad-targeting purposes.
The complaint announced Tuesday was filed under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which stipulates that companies found in violation can face fines of up to 4 percent of global revenue (or 20 million euros, whichever is greater).
Under GDPR, which went into effect only in May, users must legally and freely consent to the processing of their personal data, including their location.
The agencies argue that Google does not have a legal basis to track users through its “location history” and web & app activity” settings. Google’s Android operating system is the dominant mobile OS across the world.
“Google is processing incredibly detailed and extensive personal data without proper legal grounds, and the data has been acquired through manipulation techniques,” Gro Mette Moen, acting head of the Norwegian Consumer Council’s digital services unit, said in a statement.
The new complaint flags a number of Google tactics and settings, including the fact that the “location history” setting can be enabled during Android setup without users being aware. It also points at users being “nudged” toward enabling location history at certain points if they have not turned it on during the setup process, and mentions certain crucial settings buried in menus and enabled by default, as well as the bundling of “invasive location tracking” with other Google services, such as photo sorting by location.
When reached by Fox News, Google provided the following statement:
“Location History is turned off by default, and you can edit, delete, or pause it at any time. If it’s on, it helps to improve services like predicted traffic on your commute. If you pause it, we make clear that – depending on your individual phone and app settings – we might still collect and use location data to improve your Google experience.”
The company’s statement continued: “We enable you to control location data in other ways too, including in a different Google setting called Web & App Activity, and on your device. We’re constantly working to improve our controls, and we’ll be reading this report closely to see if there are things we can take on board.”
Other tech companies are also being probed under the EU’s new privacy law. Facebook is under investigation for the data breach earlier this fall that compromised nearly 50 million user accounts.
Fox News Channel’s Gillian Turner contributed to this report.
A group of more than 300 Google employees signed a letter calling on the tech giant to halt its potential plans to build a censored search engine for China — known as Dragonfly — saying it would “enable state surveillance” in the communist country. The letter, published Tuesday on Medium, was originally signed by only 11 employees but...
A poster created as part of a series of posters celebrating the lead up to the Air Force’s 70th birthday in 2017. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Maureen Stewart) Hypersonic attack drones traveling at five times the speed of sound, new stealthy drones engineered for strike missions deep into heavily defended enemy territory and drones...