“On Tuesday, Hawley and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation aimed at reining in tech companies that are tracking children online. The bill would update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to prohibit companies from tracking the location of children under the age of 13 without parental consent and require that consent be obtained from users ages 13 to 15.”
(Paula Bolyard – PJ Media) A Google executive admitted during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday that Google tracks users’ phones — even when their location history is turned off.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) questioned Google Senior Privacy Counsel Will DeVries about the company’s tracking policies during a hearing examining online consumer privacy. Some of DeVries’ answers will likely disturb consumers who thought there was a way to avoid being tracked by Google through their phones.
In his prepared remarks, DeVries told lawmakers that “the processing of personal information is necessary to simply operate the service the user requested.” He asserted that “requiring” individuals to control every aspect of data processing “can create a burdensome and complex experience that diverts attention from the most important controls without corresponding benefits,” and therefore a “specific consent or toggle” should not be required for every use of data.
“I’m concerned about the implicit bargain that consumers are being asked to ratify by which they supposedly get free services but actually have enormous amounts of personal data extracted from them without knowing exactly what’s going on,” Hawley said. He asked DeVries about his claims in his prepared remarks that Google provides “free” services and that the company “clearly explains” how personal data is used. “Is that really true?”
DeVries explained that it’s “complicated” — a word that he used several times as he tried to evade Hawley’s questions about why Google tracks its users’ locations.
An Associated Press report in August 2018 found that “many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.”