US CONGRESS has given Google a grilling over its potentially-privacy-violating location tracking database.
An open letter from the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, quizzes the firm over its Sensorvault database, which is reportedly regularly used by law enforcement.
Sensorvault, which has been in operation for a decade, provides US law enforcement agencies with access to location data taken from hundreds of millions of smartphones.
According to findings from the New York Times, officials are able to harvest information from all devices in the vicinity of a crime scene and authorities are said to have used the tool in a number of cases, including bombings in Texas.
This week, members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to the tech firm to voice their concerns about the database and the ways in which it is being used by authorities.
"We are writing in response to concerning reports about a massive database of precise location information on hundreds of millions of consumers known inside Google as Sensorvault," the lawmakers wrote.
"According to recent reports, Google tracks and stores precise location information on a huge volume of consumers, including partially every consumer with an Android device, in some cases storing information dating back to 2009."
When these capabilities are taken into account, the officials noted how "the potential ramifications for consumer privacy are far-reaching and concerning".
They want 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".
In the letter, the lawmakers ask Google 10 questions about the tool, including what information Google stores in the Sensorvault database, who within Google can access the Sensorvault database and what are their job roles and whether Google shares, sells or discloses customers location information with any third-party. µ
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