Google sued over ‘Location History’ issue as scrutiny continues

Ceria Alfonso
Agosto 21, 2018

Although pausing "Location History" tracking on your Google account may lead you to believe that you're stopping Google from collecting time-stamped location data for your devices, this is not actually the case.

According to a complaint filed late Friday, Google falsely assures people they won't be tracked if they turn the "Location History" feature on their phones to "off", and instead violates their privacy by monitoring and storing their movements.

The original description for Location History read, "You can turn off Location History at any time".

The crux of the suit is that Google is in violation of California's Invasion of Privacy Act. The lawsuit seeks to represent all affected Google users in the United States, both on Android and iOS.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit public interest group, said it has sent a letter to the US Federal Trade Commission to look into whether Google has violated a 2011 consent order.

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"Google expressly represented to users of its operating system and apps that the activation of certain settings will prevent the tracking of users' geolocation", the legal complaint reads.

A report by Associated Press (AP) has confirmed that the Google website now says of the Location History setting: "This setting does not affect other location services on your device.... some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps".

"Bringing up the 2011 settlement with the FTC is relevant here, because Google had previously agreed it wouldn't misrepresent anything related to "(1) the purposes for which it collects and uses covered information, and (2) the extent to which consumers may exercise control over the collection, use, or disclosure of covered information".

The investigation revealed that Google was covertly tracking users' locations even after they disabled the "Location History" feature in their respective Google dashboards. The company hasn't, however, responded yet about the filing of the lawsuit.

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