Google Accused of 'Spying on our Every Move' by Seven European Agencies

This past August, we reported on a study conducted by the AP (and backed up by Princeton University) that revealed that Google’s location-tracking smartphone software will continue to record your movements even when you tell it not to. Now, seven European consumer protection groups have filed formal complaints against Google based on a Norwegian Consumer Council study that arrived at the same conclusion: Google is deceiving people about collecting their data, and boy, are they collecting a lot of data.

So far, organizations in Czech Republic, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, and Sweden have made formal complaints against Google, and they’re definitely not mincing words when it comes to their accusations. According to Gro Mette Moen, a member of the Norwegian Consumer Council: “Google uses extremely detailed and comprehensive personal data without an appropriate judicial basis, and the data is acquired by means of manipulative techniques.”

The complaint filed by Norway outlines some of the major concerns expressed by American and European consumers about how Google’s location tracking can threaten personal privacy: “Location data can reveal a lot about a person: real time movements, frequently visited places, daily routines, interests, etc. Constant location tracking and aggregation of location data over time can be used to build very detailed profiles of individuals and to infer religious beliefs, political leanings, and sexual orientation, among other things.”

This information can help apps like Google Maps figure out where you are in a city or give you route recommendations, but if the prospect of being profiled by Google makes you uncomfortable, you can always turn it off…right? One of the key issues in this case is the fact that even after you’ve ostensibly stopped Google from collecting your location data, your phone may still be doing it, just in a slightly different way that’s more difficult to stop (you can read the full details in our article here).

In one of the most severe indictments so far, The European Consumer Organisation’s director general, Monique Goyens, said “Google’s data hunger is notorious but the scale with which it deceives its users to track and monetise their every move is breathtaking. The situation is more than alarming. Smartphones are being used for spying on our every move.”