Recently unredacted reports in a lawsuit against Google expose that the firm’s administrators and technicians were aware just how difficult the firm had made it for smartphone users to retain their location data private.
The tech behemoth continued gathering location data even when users turned off various location-sharing settings, made popular privacy settings more difficult to find, and also compelled LG and other phone manufacturers into hiding settings specifically because users preferred them, according to the reports.
Therefore, a lawsuit was registered against Google in May for unlawfully monitoring Android users’ locations. The lawsuit insinuated that Google retained location tracking to operate some features in the background. This could only be turned off completely when users disabled system-level tracking.
Moreover, Google employs a variety of methods to obtain user location data, as per the documents, including WiFi and even third-party applications not associated with Google, forcing users to share their data to use those apps or, in some situations, even connect their phones to WiFi.
In addition to it, when Google tested versions of its Android operating system that allowed privacy settings easier to spot, users took advantage of them, which Google perceived as a “problem,” according to the reports. To solve that issue, Google then tried to bury those settings deeper in the settings menu.
Moreover, a Google spokesperson released a statement in regards to this issue: “And our competitors driving this lawsuit have gone out of their way to mischaracterize our services. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight.”
While a deposition, former Google Maps Vice President Jack Menzel “acknowledged” that the only way Google wouldn’t know a user’s home/work locations is if the user deliberately threw the firm off. Jen Chai, a product director at Google over location services also supposedly confessed to not understanding how the company’s “complicated network of privacy settings” associated with one another.
Source: The Verge