A group of European Union-based consumer watchdogs have submitted a data privacy compliant, under the new General Data Protection Regulation legislation, against Google in the belief that the company is using methods to record web users’ locations for ad-targeting campaigns which are violating the data privacy legislation.
As per GDPR rules data processing consent must be provided by the individual/subjected in a manner which is specific, informed and freely given. The group believe that this, in relation to Googlem is not the case. The group initiated the GDPR complaint after an investigation by the Associated Press discovered 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 is enabled.
Among the complainants is the Norwegian Consumer Council. 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 found 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 global revenue.
Responding to the complaints and accusations a Google spokesperson said: “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.”
The is just the latest in a number of complaints that have been filed against Google since the introduction of GDPR on May 25 this year. Other complaints have led to the Google social media platform Google+ being discontinued, a GDPR complaint submitted by Internet browser Brave and the Internet giant was also included in a number of other GDPR complaints. Google is not on its own when it comes to handling complaints like this. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have also been hit with a number of complaints registered with various different fata authorities around the European Union.