In the last few years, Google has made a number of privacy upgrades to its services and apps, and regarding the users’ private data, but it wasn’t entirely on its own initiative. Google’s own privacy issues compelled the corporation to rethink some of its procedures. Then there’s Apple’s intense focus on security and privacy, which compelled Google to implement similar features in Android and its apps.
However, it appears that Google never intended for people to have that much control over certain parts of their privacy. Google made it extremely difficult for users to keep their location data hidden from Google, according to newly unredacted documents in a complaint filed against the company. Google has been detected gathering user data from people who thought their privacy settings wouldn’t allow it, making location one of the most sensitive privacy issues for the corporation.
Last year, Arizona’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Google over its private data gathering tactics. Some of the case’s records have been redacted. According to Business Insider, a judge ruled last week that new sections of papers be unredacted in response to a request from the trade groups Digital Content Next and News Media Alliance. They contended that it was in the public’s interest to know that Google was utilizing legal means to conceal information about its data gathering activities.
The records, which have been redacted, show that Google went to significant extent to verify that it could collect location data that phone suppliers assisted in this process and that customers had a difficult time figuring out how to keep their private location data from being shared with Google.
During a deposition, former Google vice president in charge of Google Maps Jack Menzel stated that the only way Google wouldn’t be capable of figuring out a user’s home and work locations is if the user purposefully tried to fool Google by establishing bogus addresses for these places. Jen Chai, a Google senior product manager in charge of location services, had no idea how Google’s numerous privacy settings interacted.
The unredacted documents also disclose Google’s different ways for collecting user private data. This encompasses Wi-Fi data and apps from companies other than Google. Users may be required to give private data in order to utilize particular apps or even connect to Wi-Fi.
According to the report, Google tested versions of Android in which privacy settings were more easily accessible. Users, predictably, took advantage of them. This was a “problem” for Google, so it resolved it by burying the settings farther down in the menus.
Furthermore, Google attempted to persuade smartphone manufacturers to conceal location settings “through active misrepresentations and/or concealment, suppression, or omission of facts.”
According to the documents, Google personnel knew that the corporation was aggressively gathering private data from users, which may harm the company’s business. One employee stated.
“Fail #2: *I* should be able to get *my* location on *my* phone without sharing that information with Google. This may be how Apple is eating our lunch.”
It’s questionable whether any of the unredacted documents’ location data harvesting tactics are still being used at Google.
In counter to Apple’s strategy for handling location data on iPhones, Google has enhanced location data management in more recent Android releases. The Privacy Dashboard in Android 12 will expose all of the apps that utilize the user’s location, such as Google’s own apps.