South Korea: South Korean police raided Google’s Seoul office on suspicion that the company collected user location data without consent, adding to global pressure on the mobile industry to address privacy concerns.
The investigation focuses on Google’s mobile advertising service AdMob, which the company purchased last year for USD 750 million. “We suspect AdMob collected personal location information without consent or approval from the Korean Communication Commission,” said a South Korean police official.
Google has consistently maintained that Android only collects location data with user consent and that the data is anonymised when sent to the company, but a visceral public reaction to recent reports on smartphone’s location awareness have shown that people are intensely uncomfortable with being “tracked.”
South Korea is just the latest front in Google’s privacy war. The company was recently slapped with strict privacy regulations by the Federal Trade Commission, including twenty years of audits to make sure it complies, while EU regulators mull laws even more stringent than the FTC rules. The company also faces a fresh lawsuit in the US alleging that Android violates privacy by sharing location data.