On Tuesday, Internet search giant and major mobile player Google became involved in a mobile tracking scandal on par with Apple’s recent iOS controversy.
This morning, South Korean police raided Google’s Seoul offices. The raid was reportedly promoted by concern that Google is collecting private user information without informed consent from users.
Reuters reports that South Korean police have been investigating Google’s AdMob advertising division and the findings prompted the sudden search.
“We suspect AdMob collected personal location information without consent or approval from the Korean Communication Commission,” an official with the South Korean police stated.
Google confirmed the raid but will offer no comment beyond pledging cooperation with investigators.
“Every technology has a flip side. Location-based services benefit customers by helping them find nearby restaurants, gas stations and other places with their smartphones,” Kim Kwang-jo, a computer science professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, tells Reuters. “But it could potentially violate consumer privacy. There are loopholes in location-based services, and companies should get consent from customers to collect location data.”
Apple is currently preparing a remedy for the iOS tracking bug and will release iOS 4.3.3 later this month with updates to accomplish a resolution to the tracking controversy.
At this time, however, it isn’t clear what – of anything – Google has done wrong or how it might address the suspected but not confirmed user privacy violations.