Court Documents: Google Makes It Almost Impossible for Users to Keep Their Location Private

Google's Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai gives a keynote address during the opening day of the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on March 2, 2015. Phone makers will seek to seduce new buyers with even smarter Internet-connected watches and other wireless gadgets as they wrestle for dominance at …
LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Recently unredacted documents in a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company’s own executives and employees knew how difficult the tech giant makes it for smartphone users to keep their location data private.

Business Insider reports that recently unredacted documents in a lawsuit against Google reveal that the company’s own executives and engineers knew how difficult the company made it for users to keep their location data private. According to the documents, Google continued to collect location data even when users turned off various location-sharing settings, made popular privacy settings hard to find within smartphone settings menus, and allegedly pressured LG and other smartphone makers into hiding settings solely because users liked them.

During a deposition, Jack Menzel, a former vice president overseeing Google Maps, admitted that the only way the company wouldn’t be able to determine a user’s home and work locations is if that person intentionally worked to throw Google off their trail by setting their home and work addresses as different locations.

Jen Chai, a senior product manager in charge of location services, stated that she didn’t know how the company’s complex web of privacy settings interacted with each other. The documents are part of a lawsuit brought against Google by the Arizona Attorney General’s office last year, which accused Google of illegally collecting location data from smartphone users after they opted out of this collection.

Google allegedly tested a version of its Android operating system that made privacy settings easier to find, which users took advantage of. Google then viewed this as a “problem.” To solve this, Google sought to bury these settings deeper within Android’s internal menus.

The lawsuit also states that Google attempted to convince smartphone makers to hide location settings “through active misrepresentations and/or concealment, suppression, or omission of facts in order to assuage [manufacturers’] privacy concerns.”

Read more at Business Insider here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address


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