A collection of European Union-based consumer watchdogs have registered a data privacy compliant, under the new General Data Protection Regulation legislation, against Google claiming that the company is employing methods to track web users’ locations for ad-targeting campaigns which are breaching the data privacy legislation.
GDPR rules state that data processing consent must be given by the individual/subjected in a manner which is specific, informed and freely given. The group think that this, in relation to Google is not currently the case. The group began submitting the GDPR complaint after an investigation by the Associated Press found that a number of Google services running on Android and Apple devices calculate the user’s location and store it despite the user not have Google’s “Location History” setting turned on.
One the the listed complainants is the Norwegian Consumer Council and the (acting) head of this organization, Gro Mette Moen, said in a statement: “When we carry our phones, Google is recording where we go, down to which floor we are on and how we are moving. This can be combined with other information about us, such as what we search for, and what websites we visit. Such information can in turn be used for things such as targeted advertising meant to affect us when we are receptive or vulnerable.”
If Google is ruled as to be guilty of these charges it faces the prospect of a massive fine, under the GDPR, as high as €20m or 4% of annual worldwide revenue.
Reacting to the complaints and accusations a Google spokesperson remarked: “Location History is turned off by default, and you can edit, delete, or pause it at any time. If it’s on, it helps improve services like predicted traffic on your commute. If you pause it, we make clear that – depending on your individual phone and app settings – we might still collect and use location data to improve your Google experience. We’re constantly working to improve our controls, and we’ll be reading this report closely to see if there are things we can take on board.”