Documents show Google’s efforts to prevent users from hiding location

Unredacted documents in Arizona’s lawsuit against Google revealed the company’s efforts to prevent users from keeping their location information private and that the Google employees were well aware of it. 

According to the documents, as reported by Business Insider, the company kept on gathering location information even though users turned off their location settings and requested phone manufacturers including LG to hide settings to make it more difficult to opt-out.

During a deposition, Google Maps’ former vice president Jack Menzel admitted that the only way for users to stop Google from collecting location data is to provide random locations as their home and office addresses. 

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The documents also showed how the company confused not only users, but also its own employees. 

Jen Chai, a Google product manager responsible for location services, admitted that she didn’t know how the interaction works between the company’s “complex web of privacy settings”.

So there is no way to give a third party app your location and not Google?” one employee said, according to the documents, “This doesn’t sound like something we would want on the front page of the [New York Times].

This may be how Apple is eating our lunch,” another employee said, adding that Apple was “much more likely” to allow users to share their location with apps but not with itself. 

In addition, the different Android OS versions that Google tested made it easier for users to find privacy settings, which Google described as a ‘’problem’’ and then explored ways to hide settings to solve this problem. 

Speaking to The Verge, Google said: ‘’[Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich] 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.’’

The documents shared in Arizona’s lawsuit against Google which was opened last year accusing the company of collecting location data even after users opted-out. 

Meanwhile, it is unknown whether the company is still continuing its practices.

Written by Jordan Bevan


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