Four days ago, an investigation by The Associated Press (AP) revealed that despite certain users preferring to turn off Google’s Location History toggle in their activity control panel, Google would continue to track their location irrespective of their choice.
The option previously said, “With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored”, which, as it turned out, was an incorrect statement. As a result, Google faced backlash, primarily regarding the misleading nature of said toggle. In a statement to TechCrunch, Google tried to come clean about its side of the story, saying:
“Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time. As the story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”
Regarding AP questioning Google’s dubious claims, the company was initially in denial, saying that they “provide clear descriptions of these tools.” Shortly after, it backtracked on this by releasing another statement on Thursday, saying:
“We have been updating the explanatory language about Location History to make it more consistent and clear across our platforms and help centers.”
While clarity is, to a degree, appreciated, this is far from a solution. Google is effectively saying that there’s no way for a user to provide consent when it comes to their privacy. To simply feed advertisers more granular information about users for the sake of more revenue is, put politely, questionable. This is an issue with far-reaching consequences that transparency alone won’t fix.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has not, as of yet, commented on any intention to investigate this matter.
Source: The Associated Press