Google Under Serious Investigation

Google Under Serious Investigation

Max Boland

In August, the Associated Press fostered an investigation into Google’s location services–and found a shocking contradiction to their privacy policy. The study showed that Google services and apps (on Android devices, as far as we know) track and store your location data even when your location services are turned off. The state of Arizona has expressed serious problems with this breach of privacy, as the geographical information helps form advertisements, and plans to sue Google for $10,000 per instance.

In Arizona law, businesses can be brought to court for deceiving consumers. Google responded to the allegations so far by saying,”Geographic information helps us provide useful services when people interact with our products, like locally relevant search results and traffic predictions,” Well, Google, when a user of your product decides to stop using parts of it for fear that someone they don’t know can track where they are–and you keep the location services on against their will–the consumers have a right to be mad.

Arizona, however, is not the only one. A software company based in the United States called Oracle found that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is illegally obtaining detailed search histories and user locations of Android users in Australia.

The fact that there are over 10 million Android users in Australia makes this a very localized problem, especially when consent is not granted for location services. Oracle also claims that the illegal data collection uses about a gigabyte per month per device–which adds up in money and use of the device. Chairman of the Australia Privacy Foundation claims that,”Some mobile plans may only include a few gigabytes of data, so if Google is harvesting a gigabyte of data, it is a very real cost to consumers.”

Fellow student, Elizabeth Halko, says,”In a world where technology is an integral part of our lives, basic online safety is a fundamental necessity. This is certainly not the first security breach to occur and likely will not be the last, but nonetheless it should serve as powerful reminder to Google that their security systems are not yet perfect and need to improve. For our part, we must call out internet providers who experience security breaches and demand that our private information is protected.”

The most frightening part of this finding in at least two centralized locations in the world is that Google isn’t the only one. The social media website Facebook has had its fair share of investigation and illegal data collection. For example, in the smartphone app for Facebook, location services were already activated and revealed their location to other people they were messaging. Facebook also has been found in German court to be using consumer’s personal information for commercial use, which is certainly not anyone’s intention when using a social network.