Google’s Private Parts Back in Question

Google did an oopsie poopsie loopsie doopsie by reportedly making it difficult for smartphone users to keep location data private
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When I heard about this, I have to admit, I wasn’t shocked. It seems like they’ve always been sneaky when it comes to anything privacy. And as you’ll read below, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve actually gone out of my way to read articles about how to navigate my account settings to ensure my location is in fact, staying private.

I distinctly remember how creeped out I felt after learning that Google continues tracking you even after turning location history off. If you’ve ever attempted to change those setting yourself, I’m sure you too felt like a mazed rat throughout the entire process. Some don’t even know those are settings you can access and change.

In newly unredacted documents in Arizona’s lawsuit against Google, it shows that company executives and engineers were aware that the search giant had made it hard for smartphone users to keep location information private. This stems from a few years back when Arizona first began probing Google — an inquiry first reported by The Washington Post in 2018 — following an investigation led by the Associated Press into Google’s tracking behavior. It was first publicly filed in 2018 and has since been an ongoing investigation.

Google continued collecting location data even when users turned off various location-sharing settings, made popular privacy settings harder to find, and even pressured LG and other phone makers into hiding settings precisely because users liked them, according to the documents.

Jack Menzel, former vice president overseeing Google Maps, admitted during a deposition that the only way Google wouldn’t be able to figure out a user’s work locations and home is if that person intentionally threw Google off the trail by setting their home and work addresses as some other random locations. Yeah, that’s not sketch.

Jen Chai, a Google senior product manager in charge of location services, didn’t know how the company’s complex web of privacy settings interacted with each other, according to the documents.

I recently reported Android 12 making some improvements on the matter of privacy; however, this may be a thing of “too little, too late”.

Any time Google has been asked to comment, they fall back on the same response that Arizona’s attorneys “mischaracterized” its services and they offered “robust” location privacy controls.

Yeah, ok.

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