US National privacy legislation is now expected after California passed a strict privacy law set to go into effect mid-2020.
Top US lawmakers are looking into why Google is storing location data on millions of devices. On April 23rd a letter to Google’s chief executive raised concerns about reports of a massive database known as Sensorvault.
According to the DECCAN Cornicle, the letter from Democrats and Republicans on the US House Energy and Commerce Committee to CEO Sundar Pichai asks for a briefing and answers on how this information is used and shared, citing a New York Times report that the database includes nearly every consumer with an Android mobile device, in some cases storing information dating back to 2009.
A representative for Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, said in a statement: “The data in question is used for Location History, which is off by default. If a user chooses to turn it on, we can provide helpful information, like real-time data to help them beat traffic on their way home from work. They can delete their Location History data, or turn off the product entirely, at any time.”
The letter asked Google who has access to the Sensorvault database and which Google services or apps collect the information. The lawmakers asked for answers to their questions as well as a briefing on the issue by May 10.
They also asked Google if the information is collected from consumers who requested that their data not be shared and asked to be briefed on any third parties, other than law enforcement, given access to location data.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other free online services rely on advertising for revenue and use data collected on users to more effectively target those ads. Congress has long been expected to take up privacy legislation after California passed a strict privacy law that goes into effect next year.
As reported by NPR, starting in 2020, Californians will have the right to learn what companies like Facebook and Google know about them — and stop the sharing or selling of their data. And they can sue over data breaches if companies fail to adequately protect their data.
These are all steps in the right direction to ensure that consumers and users of services are protected from unfair and potentially harmful repercussions from their data. Never hesitate to question your rights to your data, and remember we are always happy to answer questions.