Privacy: U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey Ask FTC to Investigate Google’s “Covert” Collection of Location Data
U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) wrote Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons requesting an investigation of Google’s collection of sensitive location data and “the potential deceptive acts and practices used by Google to track and commoditize American consumers.”
After an investigation by technology publication Quartz revealed Google collects Android users’ location data – even when location services are disabled – Blumenthal and Markey wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai to demand answers. According to the Quartz investigation, Android devices are continually and covertly collecting users’ location information and sending this information to Google, including when location services are disabled, the phone has been reset to factory condition, no apps are running or the SIM card is removed.
Google’s response to the senators’ letter failed to assuage concerns that the company is taking adequate steps to protect user privacy, even “[raising] questions about their characterization of basic consumer protection terms” like opt-in, consent, and notice. “This set of options is inadequate and the confusing consent process is replicated throughout Android’s various settings, where location privacy is often mischaracterized or subdivided so few users could effectuate their choice to opt-out of Google’s location data gathering,” the senators wrote.
Read the Complete News Release
Direct to Full Text of Letter Sent to FTC
24 pages; PDF.
Democrats Ask FTC to Investigate Google’s Data Collection Practices (via The Hill)
Quartz Article Cited
Report: Google Collects Android Users’ Locations Even When Location Services are Disabled (November 21, 2017)
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.