Unedited documents show how Google tricked users into sharing private data – BGR


Google has added various privacy enhancements to its services and apps over the past few years, but it wasn’t just of its own volition. Google’s own data breaches forced the company to reconsider some of its practices. Then there is Apple’s massive interest in security and privacy, which has forced Google to develop suitable functions for Android and its apps.

But it seems that Google never wanted users to have so much freedom about certain aspects of their privacy. Newly unedited documents in a lawsuit against Google have shown that the search giant has made it almost impossible for users to keep location data secret from Google. Location is one of the most sensitive privacy issues for Google as the company was recently caught collecting user data from people who believed their privacy settings would not allow it.

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The Arizona Attorney General sued Google last year over the company’s data collection practices. Some of the documents from the case have been edited. Business Insider reports that a judge ordered last week that new sections of documents should not be edited in response to a request from trading groups Digital Content Next and News Media Alliance. They argued that it was in the public’s interest to know that Google is using its legal resources to hide details about its data collection practices from the public.

The unredited documents show that Google has gone to great lengths to ensure that location data can be collected, that phone providers have made it possible, and that users have had a hard time figuring out how to prevent their home location data from being accessed Google will be passed on.

The former vice president of Google, who oversaw Google Maps, told Jack Menzel during a filing that Google could only find out where a user lived and worked if that person had deliberately tried to turn Google off by configuring fake addresses for those locations. Jen Chai, Google’s senior product manager responsible for location services, didn’t even know how Google’s various privacy settings interact with one another.

The documents also show the various methods that Google uses to collect user data. This includes Wi-Fi data and third-party apps that are not affiliated with Google. Users may need to share certain data in order to use these apps or to simply connect their phones to Wi-Fi.

Here’s a comment from a Google employee that Google pulls data from third-party apps:

So there is no way to assign your location and not Google to a third-party app. That doesn’t sound like something we’d want on the cover of [New York Times].

The report says that Google tested versions of Android that made it easier to find privacy settings. Unsurprisingly, users took advantage of them. This was a “problem” for Google, so the problem has been addressed by hiding the settings deeper in the menus.

In addition, Google tried to convince smartphone manufacturers to hide location settings “through active misrepresentation and / or obfuscation, suppression or omission of facts”.

The documents show that Google employees have realized that the company is aggressively collecting data from users, which may affect the business.

“Mistake # 2: * I * should * be able to get * my * location on * my * phone without giving that information to Google,” said one employee. “That’s how Apple might eat our lunch,” they added. Apple was “much more likely” that users could use location-based apps without getting the same data.

It is unclear whether any of the methods for collecting location data described in these unedited documents are still in use at Google.

Google has improved the way location data is managed in newer versions of Android in response to Apple’s method of processing location data on iPhones. Android 12 displays a privacy dashboard that shows all the apps that are accessing the user’s location, including Google’s own apps.

However, Google isn’t ready to meet Apple’s more aggressive iPhone privacy functions just yet. Google’s privacy labels won’t be introduced until 2022 at the earliest. And Google probably won’t be copying the best iPhone privacy feature yet, which lets users decide whether apps can track them across other apps anytime soon.

Despite Google’s obvious linchpin for privacy over the past few years, we’ve pointed out a number of initiatives that felt more like privacy-related marketing tricks than real features that would completely prevent users from being tracked. The latest controversial data protection decision by Google concerns Chrome’s new FLoC tracking technology, which is intended to replace third-party cookies.

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