May 21, 2018

Privacy: U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey Ask FTC to Investigate Google’s “Covert” Collection of Location Data

From a News Release (via Sen. Edward Markey):

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.

Media Coverage

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)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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