In addition, the report states that seven countries, including Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, all claim that location data tracked by Google could reveal a person’s religious beliefs, political leaning, health condition, and sexual orientation.
Google has been collecting user’s location data “through the features ‘location history’ and ’web & app activity’, which are integrated into all Google user accounts.”
Google uses “deceptive practices”
BEUC said that Google uses “deceptive practices” and “tricks” to force people to turn on its different features. Consent, it said, was not being freely given.
Under GDPR, consent must be given freely before collecting or processing any location data.
Failure to comply with GDPR laws will result in fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or $20m – whichever of the two fines are higher.
However, according to the report, Google failed to give users “straightforward information” about how data will be used.
“Google’s data hunger is notorious but the scale with which it deceives its users to track and monetise their every move is breath-taking,” Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, said
“Google is not respecting fundamental GDPR principles, such as the obligation to use data in a lawful, fair and transparent manner,” she added.
“The situation is more than alarming. Smartphones are being used for spying on our every move.”
The seven organisation that filed the complaint are members of BEUC – an umbrella group that represents and deals with consumer complaints in Brussels.
Google faces GDPR complaint
According to a BBC report, Google responded to these complaints by saying: “Location history is turned off by default and you can edit, delete, or pause it at any time.
“If it’s on, it helps improve services like predicted traffic on your commute,” it added.
Depending on a user’s phone or app setting, Google said they make it clear that they still might collect and use location data to improve their services.
“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 onboard,” said Google.