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Experts Say That Google Storing Location Data Can Be Easily Abused

According to Jesse Victors, Software Security Consultant at Synopsys, when Google builds a control into Android and then does not honour it, there is a strong potential for abuse.

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Google storing location data has strong potential for abuse: Experts
Google storing location data has strong potential for abuse: Experts. Pixabay
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 A day after reports surfaced that certain Google apps track your whereabouts even when you turn off location data, experts on Tuesday expressed concerns about the practice, stressing that location and identity data can be used for both good and bad.

The Associated Press on Monday ran a story saying an investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users’ location data even if the users explicitly used a privacy setting forbidding that.

Researchers from Princeton University confirmed the findings.

According to Tim Mackey, Technical Evangelist at the US-based tech company Synopsys, it has been widely understood for some time that tech giants like Google use data supplied through the use of their services as part of their efforts to personalize the experience.

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Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in.Pixabay

“There is a basic saying when it comes to most technology — ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. For practical purposes, this supply of personal data has been part of the virtual fees we pay to companies in exchange for ‘free’ access to the services provided,” Mackey told IANS.

“With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU now in effect and regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on the horizon, companies collecting personal data need to reassess their use of personal data,” he noted.

In a statement given to IANS, Google said that “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 (AP) 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,” said Google.

just turning off Location History doesn't solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing "Web and App Activity" may do the trick.
just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

But just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

However, according to the information on Google’s Activity Control page, “Even when this setting is paused, Google may temporarily use information from recent searches in order to improve the quality of the active search session”.

According to Mackey, since we’re talking about consumer-level services, the expectation of the consumer for an “off switch” is what matters most.

“Users wishing their location be kept private indicate this preference through the ‘Location history’ setting. If vendors placed themselves in the shoes of a consumer and respected the setting, managing consent under regulations like GDPR would be simpler and the user’s expectations would be met,” Mackey emphasised.

Also Read: Microsoft’s Android Launcher Now Lets You Track Your Kid’s Location and App Usage

According to Jesse Victors, Software Security Consultant at Synopsys, when Google builds a control into Android and then does not honour it, there is a strong potential for abuse.

“It is sometimes extremely important to keep one’s location history private. Other times, you may simply wish to opt out of data collection. It’s disingenuous and misleading to have a toggle switch that does not completely work,” Victors said. (IANS)

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Samsung And Internet Giant Google to Work Together For Advanced Messaging Service

This collaboration will help further the industry's momentum toward advanced messaging and global RCS coverage

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Samsung unveils premium home screen range in India. Flickr

Samsung Electronics Co. has said it is working with Internet giant Google Inc. to offer improved messaging experiences that would allow users to engage in group chats and video calls and transfer large files without the need for additional apps.

The collaboration will ensure that Android Messages and Samsung Messages will work together seamlessly, and it will boost coverage of Rich Communication Services (RCS), an upgrade to the SMS messaging system, Yonhap news agency reported.

The South Korean tech giant said it would work to bring RCS features to existing mobile phones beginning with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

It also said its new Galaxy smartphones will natively support RCS messaging, starting with those on a set of carriers that have or will soon launch RCS.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

“By furthering our robust partnership with Google, we will bring a richer messaging experience to our customers, letting them seamlessly chat with their friends and family across messaging platforms,” Patrick Chomet, Executive Vice President at Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business, said in comments posted on the website of Samsung Mobile Press on Wednesday.

“This collaboration will help further the industry’s momentum toward advanced messaging and global RCS coverage.”

Also Read About- A Diet Rich in Nutrients Helps In Living Longer: Study

“Our partnership will further advance our shared vision of a substantially improved messaging experience on Android for users, brands and the broader Android ecosystem,” Anil Sabharwal, Vice President for Communications Products and Photos at Google, said.

The move comes at a time when many people are opting to use popular messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and WeChat instead of traditional SMS messaging. (IANS)