The bipartisan leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee want some answers from Google CEO Sundar Pichai on reports that the company maintains a database of location information on hundreds of millions of people.
They have written Pichai asking for a briefing on the so-called "Sensorvault."
Signing on to the letter are Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the committee; Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member; Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), chair of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee; and Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.), ranking member of the subcommittee.
They didn't hammer Google over the database. Instead, they pointed to the potential ramifications for privacy of such a database, particularly if it is shared with third parties and, as the New York Times reported, the data is collected even when people are not making calls or surfing the web, and is never deleted.
According to the New York Times, Google has information on almost everyone with an Android device, some of it back a decade.
They want answers to the following questions by May 7.
- "What information does Google store in the Sensorvault database and for what purposes does Google use this information?
- "Does Google maintain other databases of precise location information?
- "Who is able to access the information in the Sensorvault database?
- "How accurate is the precise location information stored in the Sensorvault database?
- "What controls, if any, does Google provide to consumers to limit or revoke Google’s access to the information stored in the Sensorvault database?
- "What is Google’s retention policy with respect to precise location information stored in the Sensorvault database? Does Google share, sell, license or otherwise disclose precise location information (including deidentified data) from the 6. "Sensorvault database with any third parties other than law enforcement?
- "Does Google share, sell, license, or otherwise disclose precise location information (including deidentified data) from the Sensorvault database with any third parties other than law enforcement?"