Consumer groups want EU to go after Google for tracking users with their phones
A report a few weeks ago revealed what some Google users already knew: That disabling Location History doesn’t mean Google will not record your location with the help of certain mobile apps, especially the ones that need your location to work correctly, like Google Maps and Search.
There is a way to stop location tracking for good, but it’s not obvious to the user. In order to do so, you have to pause Web & Activity tracking to prevent Google from storing your location. Because of that, Google may face a new investigation in Europe, where consumer groups want regulators to look into the matter.
Per Reuters, consumer agencies from the Czech Republic, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and Sweden countries asked local privacy regulators to act against Google for allegedly tracking the movements of millions of users, which may be a violation of the new GDPR laws.
The European Consumer Organization (BEUG), a consumer lobby group, alleges that Google employed various methods to encourage users to turn on the “location history” and “web and app activity” features that are integrated into all Google accounts.
Google had this to say about the complaints:
“Google represented that a user ‘can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.’ This simply was not true,” that complaint read.
The plaintiff was seeking unspecified damages for Google’s alleged intentional violations of California privacy laws and intrusion into people’s private affairs, according to a Reuters report from a few months ago.
Furthermore, the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google for violating a consent decree it signed in 2011. Back then, Google was accused of violating its own privacy policies and agreed not to do it in the future, accepting independent audits of its privacy practices for the next 20 years.