Google made it hard for users to keep location data private

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2
The aggressive collection of location data by Google and the difficulty for users to manage their privacy settings was known as problems by Google employees, lawsuit documents read, with employees declaring "Apple is eating our lunch."




Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued Google in May 2020 over the tracking practices of Android, with the accusation that Google continued to collect location data from smartphones despite users opting out. In unsealed documents, it appears that Google made privacy settings for location data harder to find, in order to preserve its data collection practices.

In the documents, it is said that Google continued the location data collection even if users turned off numerous location-sharing settings, throughout apps and Android itself, according to Insider. Google is also said to have pressured other Android smartphone makers into making the privacy settings difficult to find, because users supposedly liked being tracked.

In one Google employee email, the staff member shows the same frustrations as users in relation to user data, in that they should be able to get their location on their device without sharing that data with the search company. "This may be how Apple is eating our lunch," they proposed, as Apple was "much more likely" to let users use location-based apps and services without sharing that data with Apple itself.

Google is said to have purposefully made the privacy settings harder to find, after testing versions of Android with easier-to-find controls but determining users actually used them. Viewing this as a "problem," Google pushed the privacy options deeper into settings menus.

The difficulty of hiding your location from Google was revealed in a deposition with Jack Menzel a former Google VP in charge of Google Maps. Menzel said users would have to intentionally throw Google off the trail for tracking by setting their home and work addresses as random locations, in order for it to not properly determine their home and work locations.

The unsealing of the documents occurs shortly after Google revealed new privacy initiatives at Google I/O, including password management, the default automatic deletion of data it collects on users over time, and to warn Google Maps users that they have Location History turned on.

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jahbladetmay

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,441member
    Let’s see how resident Googler explains this one.

    What a scumbag company. I hope these recent “revelations”(not revelations for tech people but the public seems to be catching on) cause a mass migration to real iPhones next iPhone generation.
    qwerty52williamlondontwokatmewAlex_VjahbladeOferAlexMorelloLoralye2watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 311member
    Beats said:
    Let’s see how resident Googler explains this one.

    What a scumbag company. I hope these recent “revelations”(not revelations for tech people but the public seems to be catching on) cause a mass migration to real iPhones next iPhone generation.

    Yes. 
    I simply can’t stand the Google’s arrogance and that’s the reason, why I am keeping all my hardware Google free.
    Google is de tech-Jaws, hunting for the people’s privacy data, because this is the only way it can survive.
    williamlondontwokatmewBeatsAlex_VjahbladeAlexMorellowatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    I can well imagine that the ease with which manipulative abusers could access this data, horrifies their victims. Surely, it wouldn't at all difficult for Google to offer users some form of password protection? 
    BeatsAlex_V
  • Reply 4 of 18
    lmasantilmasanti Posts: 97member
    As usual… you have to judge people/companies for what the do, not for what the say!
    BeatsAlex_VwilliamlondonFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    ericthehalfbeeericthehalfbee Posts: 4,268member
    Any surprise a company that needs your data to function (monetize via ads) would make every attempt to keep the data flowing?
    BeatsAlex_VwilliamlondonjahbladecgWerksFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,441member
    qwerty52 said:
    Beats said:
    Let’s see how resident Googler explains this one.

    What a scumbag company. I hope these recent “revelations”(not revelations for tech people but the public seems to be catching on) cause a mass migration to real iPhones next iPhone generation.

    Yes. 
    I simply can’t stand the Google’s arrogance and that’s the reason, why I am keeping all my hardware Google free.
    Google is de tech-Jaws, hunting for the people’s privacy data, because this is the only way it can survive.

    And people get mad when I call their blatant ripoffs “knockoffs”. I mean literally Eric Schmidt and co. stoke the iPhone design to create data-mining knockoffs.

    This fool’s older people who THINK they’re buying an iPhone but it’s a data-mining Samsung or Pixel. That’s just fuc*ed up.
    Alex_Vqwerty52Oferwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Google heavily underestimates people’s willingness to save a few bucks. They can be forthright with them that they lose Gmail access by opting out and most will just opt in over paying for services they get free today.  Every android user I know is aware of the privacy implications, they just simply think it’s cheaper to stick with Android.
    jahbladetenthousandthingsFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Google heavily underestimates people’s willingness to save a few bucks. They can be forthright with them that they lose Gmail access by opting out and most will just opt in over paying for services they get free today.  Every android user I know is aware of the privacy implications, they just simply think it’s cheaper to stick with Android.
    I agree. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they “don’t care” about privacy implications with Facebook, Google, their location data, etc. They would rather save a little money or get something for free. “Well, nobody has privacy anymore so what’s the difference?”

    The headline says “made it hard” not “makes it hard”. Is the implication that this is no longer an issue or is it an ongoing, current issue?
    edited May 30 watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 9 of 18
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,020member
    Aren't these simply claims made in a lawsuit for now until the case is heard and ruled on? Epic made a lot of claims against Apple in a lawsuit, but that doesn't mean they're entirely true. Another lawsuit claims Apple lied to investors about sagging iPhone shipments, committing fraud. Does everyone accept that's also true?

    While there's almost always at least some smidgen of truth behind every lawsuit at least some of us wait for the full story to be revealed. Allegations in a lawsuit does not make it all true. 
    edited May 30 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,682member
    ihatescreennames said:
    I agree. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they “don’t care” about privacy implications with Facebook, Google, their location data, etc. They would rather save a little money or get something for free. “Well, nobody has privacy anymore so what’s the difference?”
    Yeah, this is a problem.
    And, i suppose in general, it doesn't matter too much until it does (until you become a victim of it in some way).
    We're more aware of the issues, past, present and can think of potential future problems, where someone who isn't thinking about that just hasn't experienced it so far, so who cares? I think they will, but it will be too late by then.
    edited May 30 watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 11 of 18
    cgWerks said:
    ihatescreennames said:
    I agree. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they “don’t care” about privacy implications with Facebook, Google, their location data, etc. They would rather save a little money or get something for free. “Well, nobody has privacy anymore so what’s the difference?”
    Yeah, this is a problem.
    And, i suppose in general, it doesn't matter too much until it does (until you become a victim of it in some way).
    We're more aware of the issues, past, present and can think of potential future problems, where someone who isn't thinking about that just hasn't experienced it so far, so who cares? I think they will, but it will be too late by then.

    qwerty52
  • Reply 12 of 18
    Google? Android? Who even cares about those here on AI? I call click-bait / holy wars.  
    baconstangDogperson
  • Reply 13 of 18
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,441member
    Google heavily underestimates people’s willingness to save a few bucks. They can be forthright with them that they lose Gmail access by opting out and most will just opt in over paying for services they get free today.  Every android user I know is aware of the privacy implications, they just simply think it’s cheaper to stick with Android.
    I agree. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they “don’t care” about privacy implications with Facebook, Google, their location data, etc. They would rather save a little money or get something for free. “Well, nobody has privacy anymore so what’s the difference?”

    The headline says “made it hard” not “makes it hard”. Is the implication that this is no longer an issue or is it an ongoing, current issue?

    Yup they say that and they’re WRONG. Apple users are still safe if they share little information. If you HAVE to use Facebook ad-block everything, use a fake last name etc. The creepy thing is Mark saves all your uploads.

    Another thing these people also say is “well... Apple probably does it too!” And that’s another problem. Anything negative they can claim Apple probably also does. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    Loralye2Loralye2 Posts: 2member
    This is just ONE reason why I hate and never use google and I’m barely using FB as well.
    williamlondonqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,631member
    gatorguy said:
    Aren't these simply claims made in a lawsuit for now until the case is heard and ruled on? Epic made a lot of claims against Apple in a lawsuit, but that doesn't mean they're entirely true. Another lawsuit claims Apple lied to investors about sagging iPhone shipments, committing fraud. Does everyone accept that's also true?

    While there's almost always at least some smidgen of truth behind every lawsuit at least some of us wait for the full story to be revealed. Allegations in a lawsuit does not make it all true. 
    We know the claims are true because they are all easily and objectively verifiable, and in fact have been verified.

    We also know that Google has a very strained relationship with the truth, so no one trust their new "privacy initiatives" either.

    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    gatorguy said:
    Aren't these simply claims made in a lawsuit for now until the case is heard and ruled on? Epic made a lot of claims against Apple in a lawsuit, but that doesn't mean they're entirely true. Another lawsuit claims Apple lied to investors about sagging iPhone shipments, committing fraud. Does everyone accept that's also true?

    While there's almost always at least some smidgen of truth behind every lawsuit at least some of us wait for the full story to be revealed. Allegations in a lawsuit does not make it all true. 
    As per the article, there are unsealed documents showing that Google knowingly decided to make it extremely difficult for users to avoid being tracked. Documents in a court case are very unlikely to have been fabricated.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18

    Beats said:
    Yup they say that and they’re WRONG. Apple users are still safe if they share little information. If you HAVE to use Facebook ad-block everything, use a fake last name etc. The creepy thing is Mark saves all your uploads.
    I have added emphasis to the section of your post I think is too simplistic. There are any number of useful reasons for saving everything your users upload, sometimes even if they tell you to delete them (for example, a user who has deleted or lost every other copy of the file may contact you to see if you still have it, or government regulations may require retention of information for a certain period), in addition to more nefarious reasons that only serve the owners of the service.

    More damning for Facebook is the requirement to surrender your copyright to any materials you upload to the service. That provision (which I last checked several years ago, so apologies if it no longer applies) is abhorrent because there is literally no user benefit for that requirement.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,682member
    Beats said:
    … Another thing these people also say is “well... Apple probably does it too!” And that’s another problem. Anything negative they can claim Apple probably also does. 
    I agree, but I think my main concern would be whether Apple truly cares more than it is a marketing advantage at this point. What happens in the future with them? I guess some of the stuff is designed such that they couldn’t get/use it if they change their tune, but I don’t think everything is, and it’s hard to switch platforms if anything ever changes. I personally don’t trust that Apple has this strong belief deep in their core that will never, ever change (I’ve seen them ‘hold their finger to the wind’ too many times, or make ‘business decisions’ when push comes to shove).

    Loralye2 said:
    This is just ONE reason why I hate and never use google and I’m barely using FB as well.
    Yeah, the problem is that if you want to compete, business-wise, or in the arena of ideas, etc. you have to be on these platforms. This is why there need to be strong alternatives, and why their censorship activities are so dangerous. One can think of a recent example that cost hundreds of thousands of lives because they controlled the narrative. We can debate all day whether free-speech should apply to a company, but at some point, when a company reaches a certain level of influence, we can’t have them controlling speech, the ‘news’, the ‘facts’ and/or using that control to help crush any competition. I don’t care what term we use to label that, but it is insanely dangerous!

    FileMakerFeller said:
    … More damning for Facebook is the requirement to surrender your copyright to any materials you upload to the service. That provision (which I last checked several years ago, so apologies if it no longer applies) is abhorrent because there is literally no user benefit for that requirement.
    Don’t they have to make something of that sort, so they can distribute it on their platform and potentially others they partner with and not face a lawsuit? Sorry, I don’t know the details there, but are you actually surrendering your ownership, or are you giving them a kind of derivative sub-ownership to then do as they wish with the things you’ve posted there? Yeah, the former would be pretty scary.
    watto_cobra
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