Communications Committee asks Google to explain location tracking

Data Protection Commissioner urged to investigate matter

It emerged this week that Google continues to track phone users’ movements even after they have paused the “Location History” feature on their devices. Photograph: Reuters

It emerged this week that Google continues to track phone users’ movements even after they have paused the “Location History” feature on their devices. Photograph: Reuters

 

Google is to be called before the Oireachtas Communications Committee after it was revealed the company continues to tracks users’ locations when their location data is switched off.

The chair of the committee, Hildegarde Naughton of Fine Gael, has also written to the Data Protection Commissioner calling for an investigation into Google’s location tracking.

It emerged this week that Google continues to track phone users’ movements even after they have paused the “Location History” feature on their devices. According to an investigation carried out by the Associated Press in collaboration with computer scientists at Princeton University, other Google services on Android and iOS devices continue to keep tabs on users’ locations.

Ms Naughton also said Google will be asked to appear before the committee to address the matter during its early consideration of the Digital Safety Commissioner Bill.

Serious concerns

Ms Naughton said she has “serious concerns” regarding the compliance of the recently revealed practice of location stalking with European General Data Protection Regulations.

“GDPR mandates that data - and an individual’s location is certainly data - can only be shared with a legitimate purpose and proper consent. Given recent revelations that disabling location settings does not prevent your location being shared with Google and its advertisers, it is not clear to me how Google are in compliance with GDPR principles of consent,” she said.

“European citizens have a right to privacy and I am determined to ensure that it is protected,” she said.

Google Ireland and the DPC were contacted for comment.