Google came under fire from consumer groups in European countries, which accused the company of tracking user locations in violation of the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Organisations from the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden claimed the company manipulates Android users into sharing location data by hiding key controls and repeatedly asking users to share their whereabouts.
The groups, which are all members of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), filed complaints with their respective national Data Protection Authorities.
Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, in a statement said Google’s practices are “more than alarming,” adding “smartphones are being used for spying on our every move. This is not the digital society that European consumers want to live in”.
Another consumer interest group, the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue, cited the BEUC complaints in a letter urging the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s practices.
In a statement provided to Reuters, a Google representative noted location history is turned off by default, but said the company makes clear that “depending on your individual phone and app settings, we might still collect and use location data to improve your Google experience”.
Similar allegations were lodged against Google in a US lawsuit filed earlier this year, which accused the company of tracking both Android and iPhone users even after they switched off a location history feature.
Google could face fines of up to 4 per cent of its global revenue from the previous financial year if it is found to have violated GDPR.