Google said that it had taken an action against a company that sold location information of Android users. SafeGraph which sold data sets to customers was banned by Google. The data was obtained by making software developers embed SafeGraph’s code in their apps. The clients of this company include the US Centers for Disease Control, which collected information useful for its response effort to the coronavirus pandemic according to an investigation conducted by Motherboard.
A 7-day warning was issued for all apps which worked with SafeGraph. They were asked to remove the code that SafeGraph embedded to collect data. If not done, Google warned that the apps will be removed from the Google Play marketplace.
The news of the ban came as criticism on big tech companies over the collection of user data surfaced. There was a bill earlier this year, which required law enforcement to get a court order if personal information has to be collected from third-party brokers.
Google had several experiences in receiving backlash on the treatment of location data on its own apps. Last year, an investigation by the Associated Press found that Google can track a user’s whereabouts even if the Location History is turned off. It can track the users but won’t be recorded in the Google Maps timelines as per the report. The location tracking could be paused if the user turns off Web and Apps Activity.