October 16, 2021

Google bans SafeGraph services from Play Store for selling location data

Google has banned the services of location data company SafeGraph in apps from the Play Store. This company would collect location and resell it to third parties. Developers who added code from SafeGraph to their apps were urged to remove it in June.

Google banned a location-tracking company that sold users' data

SafeGraph pays developers to add code to their app that collects users’ location data, according to Motherboard . This data is then sold to government departments, companies or anyone willing to pay the purchase price.

According to Motherboard, this data from SafeGraph can be combined with other location data packages to get granular location data about people. Last year, the editors of the website themselves bought a small dataset for about $200. On the basis of that information, they could determine what the trajectory of certain people looked like after they had visited a certain place. Conversations the editors had with researchers also show that it was possible to link anonymous data to people again.

According to Motherboard, SafeGraph also sold data to the US Center for Disease Control and a local government agency due to the corona crisis. Meanwhile, Google has confirmed to Motherboard that it has been urging developers to remove SafeGraph’s code from their apps since early June. If they failed to do so after a period of seven days, they could be banned from the Play Store. It is not clear whether SafeGraph still collects data via apps from the Google Play Store.