Google reportedly paid £4,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit in the UK earlier this year.
The Guardian reported that a UK citizen of Moroccan descent brought a case against the technology giant. He was reportedly accused of acting like a terrorist while conducting undercover research for Google in retail malls across the UK, he claimed.
The man, who chose to use the pseudonym Ahmed Rashid, said that he worked for a contracting firm which carried out work for Google’s UK business.
Mr Rashid was told to measure the strength of Wi-Fi signals in shopping centres in order to improve Google’s mapping app.
Google Maps uses Wi-Fi data inside shopping centres to help users find their way, even when signal strength is poor.
Mr Rashid claimed that he was frequently harassed and racially profiled when carrying out the work. He claimed that he was not provided with proof of his work for Google and was instructed not to identify himself to staff in stores when measuring their Wi-Fi strength.
Google has regularly used public Wi-Fi data to improve its services, although the practice has not been without controversy. In 2010, the business admitted that it had collected personal web browsing data by connecting its Street View mapping cars to Wi-Fi networks.
The £4,000 settlement with Google reportedly blocked Mr Rashid from discussing the case, but he decided to speak about his experience after Google employees around the world took part in a walkout earlier this month.
The global walkout was in protest over Google’s alleged protection of senior executives who had been accused of sexual harassment and assault. Following the global walkout of 20,000 employes, Google changed its internal rules to stop blocking employees from taking sexual harassment cases to court.
A Google spokesman denied that contractors were told to hide the purpose of their work, and said: “We often work with service providers to measure Wi-Fi signal strength, which helps us improve Google’s mapping products.
“All employees and contractors are provided with clear guidelines that outline the details of their project and role, and they’re instructed to be forthright about the fact that they’re working on behalf of Google.”
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