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US senators demand FTC investigate Google"s GPS data collection

Luana PASCU

May 15, 2018

US senators demand FTC investigate Google"s GPS data collection

Two US senators from the Democratic Party urged the US Federal Trade Commission to thoroughly investigate Google and the way its Location History collects user data on Android smartphones. Once the application is turned on, it is apparently enabled on all signed-in devices.

Google has been collecting massive amounts of data and tracking user location since 2009. Although Google was asked to comment on this matter and its privacy policies in an official letter in December 2017. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were not convinced by the company”s detailed answers so they wrote a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons asking him to take a closer look at the company”s practices.

“Google has an intimate understanding of personal lives as they watch their users seek the support of reproductive health services, engage in civic activities or attend places of religious worship,” reads the request.

The two argue that users cannot opt out of the service even though they think they can. Blumenthal and Markey believe Google is taking advantage of consumers” lack of proper knowledge of how data collection works, which has driven them to making uninformed decisions about what they share.

They “found that the consent process frequently mischaracterizes the service and degrades the functionality of products in order to push users into providing permission.”

In the fall of 2017, Quartz investigated Google and found that, even though the GPS service was disabled, Android would still collect location information from cellular towers and share it with Google, violating user privacy.

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