Every step you take: Google under fire over tracking technology

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Dutch consumers association Consumentenbond is one of the signatories to a Europe-wide complaint against internet company Google for tracking the movements of millions of users.

The Consumentenbond and agencies from six other EU countries have asked privacy regulators to take action against Google for breaking new privacy legislation, based on research by the Norwegian consumers association.

The agencies have all filed their complaints in their respective countries. They accuse Google of tracking user movements using the ‘web and app activity’ setting and steering users towards enabling the setting ‘location history’.

Both settings are integrated into all user accounts.

‘Location data can reveal a lot about people, including religious beliefs (going to places of worship), political leanings (going to demonstrations), health conditions (regular hospital visits) and sexual orientation (visiting certain bars),’ the European consumers’ association BEUC said.

‘These unfair practices leave consumers in the dark about the use of their personal data. Additionally they do not give consumers a real choice other than providing their location data, which is then used by the company for a wide range of purposes including targeted advertising.’

A spokesman for Google told DutchNews.nl that consumers are free to set the location history app as they like.

‘If you pause it, we make clear that — depending on your individual phone and app settings — we might still collect and use location data to improve your Google experience.’

‘We’re constantly working to improve our controls, and we’ll be reading this report closely to see if there are things we can take on board,’ the company said.

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