updated 09:50 am EDT, Tue May 3, 2011
Korea raids Google offices in location data hunt
Google confirmed on Tuesday that South Korean police had raided its offices in the country over concerns about Android location tracking. Officials were concerned that Google's AdMob division was collecting position data for ads without either the knowledge of the user or permission from the Korea Communications Commission. The search engine said only that it would cooperate with investigators.
The investigation follows an increasing amount of attention focusing on Google, not just Apple, over location worries. A $50 million American lawsuit has accused Google more broadly of violating privacy by checking more than users were expecting or wanted with consent. Both Apple and Google are facing hearings in the US that will help determine whether they might be breaching customer privacy.
None of the investigations so far, including the Korean raid, amount to direct accusations of wrongdoing. AdMob has usually relied on GPS just to deliver more region-specific ads, but critics have warned that it could be used for behavioral tracking and tied to an individual user.
Even so, Google has faced mounting legal trouble in Korea over its practices. An earlier raid investigated Google Street View over possible excess information about locals' homes. Android has also been more directly targeted after Korean search providers complained that Google was abusing its mobile platform power to make it difficult or impossible to use a local search engine like Daum as the default on an Android phone.