Google privacy settings don’t only confuse its users, it as well confuse its engineers also. This is according to internal documents unsealed in a lawsuit over Google’s data collection.
According to the heavily redacted documents that were newly unsealed today, one of the Google employees said:
“The current UI feels like it is designed to make things possible, yet difficult enough that people won’t figure out”. The lawsuit was initially filed in May by Arizona Attorney General, by name Mark Brnovich. This recent information in the uncovered documents was reported first by The Arizona Mirror.
Brnovich and his team wrote in the complaint:
“Even top-level Google employees do not understand under what conditions Google collects location data”.
The Arizona investigation was led off by a 2018 Associated Press article. Displaying that Google services will store location data from your iPhone or your Android device. Even if you “pause” a setting known as”Location History”. If that setting is turned off, some Google apps store location automatically, together with a timestamp, though.
One of the company’s employees wrote in a document released some days back.
“I agree with the article”. “Location off should mean location off; not except for this case or that case”.
Google says it is teaming up with the Arizona attorney general
Google says it is teaming up with the Arizona attorney general and has as well presented documents and answered questions that the investigators brought up.
A spokesperson for Google, Jose Castaneda says:
“In the case of location information, we’ve heard the feedback, and have worked hard to improve our privacy controls. Even these cherry chose published extracts state clearly that the team’s goal was to ‘Reduce confusion around Location History Settings’. ”
The rage over the way Google withheld additional location settings in ” Web and App activity” – deep in Google account settings. Did later lead the company to upgrade how its privacy switches. Little changes over the past few years came to a head in Google’s recent policy. Which is erasing location and search history for new users by default. However, new users still need to go to their Activity Controls page to change their settings.
There is still so much more that Google could do
Though Google has already made changes, there is still so much more that it could do. The documents from the Arizona lawsuit make the confusion that users go through simple.
For example, Google distributes personalized ads to its users, and a bit of what it uses to customize those ads are location data. It is very possible to put off ad personalization by turning off a setting. However, the complaint argues will not prevent the company from giving you ads based on where you are located. This means that the company will presume you are around a general 3-kilometer area. Rather than just making use of your exact GPS location on a map.
What’s more, turning off this setting does not alter things other than Google ad service. DoubleClick, which is used to display ads on other websites. Withdrawing location information from those ads needs a different user interface. And the company will still make use of general location information to target users.
The settings for DoubleClick
The settings for DoubleClick has no out-turn on Google ad personalization, the complaint reads thus:
“This, a user who thought she had opted out of receiving ads based on her location is wrong on two counts:
Google still gives her location-based ads (based on her rugged location) through that similar offer. Such as setting a daily basis.
“At the same time, through these deceptive and unfair acts and practices. Google makes it impractical if not possible for users to meaningfully opt-out of Google’s collection of location information, should the users seek to do so”.