‘Location Off Should Mean Location Off’: Google Hit With Lawsuit Over Data Collection ‘Schemes’
‘Location Off Should Mean Location Off’: Google Hit With Lawsuit Over Data Collection ‘Schemes’

By Jack Phillips

In the latest update of a lawsuit against Google, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich alleged that the tech giant has continued to collect location data even after users turn off tracking on their smartphones and other devices, citing concerns from Google employees about the company’s data-collection practices.

According to documents that were submitted in court by Brnovich’s office last week, emails that were sent among Google engineers voiced concerns about the company’s location data collection efforts after an Associated Press report was released in 2018. The engineers suggested that they believed the AP article was correct.

“So there is no way to give a third party app your location and not Google? This doesn’t sound like something we would want on the front page of the [New York Times],” one employee allegedly stated in a newly unredacted section (pdf). “I agree with the article. Location off should mean location off, not except for this case or that case,” another Google employee stated.

One employee, according to the documents, stated that “real people” who use Google’s products “just think in terms of ‘location is on’, ‘location is off’ because that is exactly what you have on the front screen of your phone.”

Brnovich, a Republican, told Fox News that the documents suggest Google knew that it was collecting users’ information and would upset customers.

“What we’ve uncovered so far, I believe, shows that Google themselves understand and appreciate that what they are doing is something that is sneaky and something that would piss off consumers if they knew about it,” he said over the past weekend. “So the fact they are trying to hide what they are doing, they are being sneaky about it, and using every trick in the arsenal to stop this from seeing the light of day is all consumers need to know about Google’s intentions.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Google for comment.

“The Attorney General and our competitors driving this lawsuit have gone out of their way to mischaracterize our services,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda told news outlets after the new documents were released. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight.”

Brnovich sued the Mountain View, California-based tech giant last year. It also accuses the firm of also pressuring smartphone maker LG and other phone manufacturers into hiding privacy settings that users often used.

After Google tested Android versions that made privacy settings easier to find, users used them frequently, which Google viewed as troubling, according to the new court documents. Google then buried the privacy features within the settings menu.

“The reality is that the stuff we’ve uncovered is shocking,” Brnovich added to Fox. “It just confirms that Google is doing everything it can to spy on everyone it can, without providing any sort of notice to anyone.”

According to the documents, employees at Google sent emails that appeared to note that users were growing frustrated by the firm’s data collection efforts.

“Fail #2: *I* should be able to get *my* location on *my* phone without sharing that information with Google,” one employee said in the unredacted documents. “This may be how Apple is eating our lunch,” the same employee added.