None of these tech corporations are to be trusted….
Newly unredacted court documents from a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company reportedly made accessing location settings difficult. This, and other measures made location privacy almost impossible.
Google Pressured Smartphone Manufacturers to Hide Settings
According to a Business Insider report, Google collected location data even when location sharing settings were switched off and “pressured LG and other phone makers into hiding settings.” Other popular privacy settings were also made difficult to find.
To allay the privacy concerns of manufacturers, Google reportedly presented data that showed how users were indeed using these settings.
According to the court documents, some Google employees and executives also admitted that they were confused as to how the privacy settings worked.
Notably, Jack Menzel, a former vice-president overseeing Google Maps stated there was only one way to prevent Google from figuring out a user’s work and home locations. This was to intentionally set wrong addresses as your work and home location.
Reportedly, Jen Chai, a senior product manager at Google, wasn’t aware “how the company’s complex web of privacy settings interacted with each other.
According to the court documents, one employee allegedly said:
So there is no way to give a third party app your location and not Google? This doesn’t sound like something we would want on the front page of the [New York Times]
Reportedly, Google had tested versions of Android that provided easier access to location and privacy settings. When users made use of the settings, Google viewed it as a “problem” and consequentially made these settings difficult to find.
The documents also shed light on how Google uses various methods such as Wi-Fi and third-party apps to collect user location data. Users are allegedly forced to share their data with third-party apps, which in turn, share it with Google.
The Lawsuit Was Filed by the Arizona Attorney General
The court documents are part of a lawsuit filed last year by Arizona’s attorney general. The original lawsuit accused Google of illegally collecting user location data, even when users had switched off location tracking settings.
At the time, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said:
It’s nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements without your knowledge or consent. Even the most innovative companies must operate within the law.
The newly unredacted documents were released by a judge in response “to a request by trade groups Digital Content Next and News Media Alliance.” The trade groups stated that it was in the public’s interest that these documents be released.