Google Combining Search and Location Data

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Google Combining Search and Location Data
Short Title Google Combined Search Query Data About Poisoning Symptoms and Person’s Location
Location United States
Date 2016

Solove Harm Surveillance, Aggregation
Information Medical and Health, Knowledge and Belief, Location
Threat Actors Google

Affected Google search users
High Risk Groups
Tangible Harms

Google has combined search queries about food poisoning symptoms with individuals' location data to guess which restaurant poisoned people.


In 2016 and 2017, Google took data from non-informed users in Las Vegas and Chicago who were searching for food poisoning symptoms, examined which places they visited based on recorded location data, and sent lists of restaurants to city health departments, who then sent inspectors.

Recording people’s location data in this case is an example of Surveillance.

When a person searches for food poisoning symptoms, Google looks back in their location history the time that food poisoning takes to incubate and guesses which restaurant poisoned the person. Combining location and search entries can be interpreted as Aggregation.

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