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Bipartisan Committee Leaders Question Google on Precise Location Information Database

Apr 23, 2019
Press Release
“The potential ramifications for consumer privacy are far reaching and concerning”

Washington, D.C. – Bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee Leaders wrote today to Google CEO Sundar Pichai expressing their concern about reports of a massive database of precise location information on hundreds of millions of consumers, known inside Google as “Sensorvault, ” and requesting a briefing and answers on how this information is used both inside and outside the company. 

The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), full-Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA).

According to the report in the New York Times, Google tracks and stores precise location information on a huge volume of consumers, including practically every consumer with an Android mobile device, in some cases storing information dating back to 2009. 

“The potential ramifications for consumer privacy are far reaching and concerning when examining the purposes for the Sensorvault database and how precise location information could be shared with third parties,” the bipartisan Committee leaders wrote.  “We would like to know the purposes for which Google maintains the Sensorvault database and the extent to which Google shares precise location information from this database with third parties.”

The bipartisan Committee leaders requested a briefing from Google by May 10 and answers to a series of questions by May 7, including:

  • What information does Google store in the Sensorvault database and for what purposes does Google use this information? 
  • Does Google maintain other databases of precise location information?
  • Who is able to access the information in the Sensorvault database? 
  • How accurate is the precise location information stored in the Sensorvault database? 
  • What controls, if any, does Google provide to consumers to limit or revoke Google’s access to the information stored in the Sensorvault database? 
  • What is Google’s retention policy with respect to precise location information stored in the Sensorvault database?  Does Google share, sell, license or otherwise disclose precise location information (including deidentified data) from the Sensorvault database with any third parties other than law enforcement? 
  • Does Google share, sell, license, or otherwise disclose precise location information (including deidentified data) from the Sensorvault database with any third parties other than law enforcement? 

To read the letter, click HERE.

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