Will Google face legal action in Saudi Arabia for tracking mobile phones?

In the modern world of technology, we all use services which track our real-time location and we are pretty much aware of it. Whether it be turning on the location for some app or calling someone our location is being monitored and no one has an issue with that.

But what if our location is being monitored all the time even when we are not aware of it or not using any such services? Recently, shocking news was uncovered by the Times of London that Google, the biggest and most popular search engine and media giant has been using the location of its users without their knowledge.[irp]

It was brought to attention that people who use Android smartphones have their location monitored at all times without their consent. An information security and digital forensics expert in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Abdul Razzaq said that this act was a breach of privacy in the systems enabled by the company.

He also said that tracking in such a way is illegal as it also includes tracking senior officials which are crime according to the Kingdom’s cybercrime laws. Google admitted that they were indeed collecting data of people’s location. Upon admitting this Google also said that this will stop by the end of the month.

Further clearing themselves Google said that they collected this data to improve services like speed and performance of delivering messages. They said that this data was not stored and was discarded immediately.

The investigation carried out found that whenever a mobile phone was connected to the internet using Wi-Fi connection or mobile data, the phone sends information to Google provided that it was in the range of a tower.

This is breaching people’s privacy because using such services do not require being tracked. One would say that the location cannot be accurate due to lack of towers in an area, but this is not true. In urban areas, many towers can be used to triangulate and somewhat pinpoint the location of the user.

A legal consultant, Claire Grainger said that such issues are often regulated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and such an act by a renowned company is admissible since the invasion of privacy is a crime under the cybercrime law.

She further said that if Google is not careful in this matter then they will not only face fines under the regulatory laws but will also face charges of criminal actions. The Telecommunication regulatory authorities in the Saudi Arabia has not yet taken action against this act but Google needs to clear their name and justify their actions.

Tech giants like Google need to be careful in such matters as they have a lot on the line with such a tremendous reputation and market value.

Source: Al Arabiya