Washington (April 7, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today sent a letter to Google requesting information about the company’s recently announced COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports. According to Google, this project employs users’ location information in an aggregated and anonymized form to provide insight into movement trends related to the coronavirus pandemic. In their letter, the Senators commend Google for its efforts to combat the current public health crisis, but caution the company against taking any steps that risk undermining their users’ privacy.


“An individual’s location data can reveal other sensitive information, such as a place of employment, religious affiliation, or political preferences,” write the Senators in their letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Access to this type of information can pose risks to both individuals’ civil liberties and their physical safety. While we commend Google’s efforts to assist in combatting the coronavirus pandemic, we caution you against steps that risk undermining your users’ privacy.”


A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found HERE.


The Senators request responses to questions that include:

  • Does Google plan to share with any government entities, researchers, or private sector partners any users’ coronavirus-related personal data or pseudonymous information
  • Does Google plan to use datasets other than Location History for its Community Mobility Reports?
  • What measures has Google undertaken to ensure that the trends detailed in the reports are representative of the entire population of an area, including non-Google users, those without smartphones, or individuals that have opted out of Location History?
  • Does Google expect that the Community Mobility Reports to be accurate for more rural or less connected communities?
  • What guidance has Google provided to public health officials about how to interpret the reports, including how Google accounts for common social patterns and categorizes locations?