US, European Consumer Groups Call on FTC to Investigate Google for Deceptive Tracking of Users

By CircleID Reporter

Over 75 consumer groups in U.S. and Europe have asked the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Google for unfairly and deceptively manipulating users of mobile phones with its Android operating system by constantly tracking location. A letter sent to the FTC by the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD), a forum of US and EU consumer organizations, says Google manipulates users into constant location tracking. It reads: "On behalf of members of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) , we are writing to urge you to investigate deceptive and misleading practices by Google. A new report published today by the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) shows how Google manipulates and nudges users of mobile phones with the Android operating system, such as Samsung phones, into being constantly location-tracked through the Location History and Web & App Activity settings, which are applied into all Google accounts." The referenced report above, also released today, is entitled "Every Step You Take," which follows up another report released in June.


"Google is processing incredibly detailed and extensive personal data without proper legal grounds, and the data has been acquired through manipulation techniques," says Gro Mette Moen, acting head of unit, digital services in the Norwegian Consumer Council.

"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."

"Yes. Have I been taking cigarette breaks? Is that what they've counted?" (from the Video released by the Norwegian Consumer Council)

Breach of GDPR: Based on the report findings, Google is considered to be in breach of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The group has issued formal complaints to their national Data Protection Authorities asking them to investigate the legitimacy of the legal basis and purposes for collection of location data.

Related topics: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Privacy, Web