Google executives and engineers have reportedly acknowledged that the company made it difficult for smartphone users to keep the location data private. This was reportedly revealed in unredacted documents that are part of a lawsuit filed in 2020 against the company by the Arizona attorney general’s office. This lawsuit accused Google of illegally collecting location data from smartphones even when the users have opted out, as per a Business Insider report. This report suggests that Google made it quite difficult for users to spot privacy settings.
The said documents reportedly also revealed that Google “pressured LG and other phone makers into hiding settings precisely because users liked them”. The company reportedly collected the user location data even when they have turned off various location-sharing settings. It further revealed that Google even uses avenues like WiFi and third-party apps not affiliated with Google to collect user location data.
To sort this issue out, ex-VP of Google Maps Jack Menzel revealed that henceforth, Google will not be able to access a person’s location if they intentionally set different locations for their office and work address. A Google senior product manager, Jen Chai who is in charge of location services said that he “didn’t know how the company’s complex web of privacy settings interacted with each other”.