Washington DC and three states sue Google over location data collection practices

Attorneys General for Washington, DC, Texas, Indiana and Washington State are suing Google LLC for allegedly using deceptive practices to collect user location data.

Each attorney general is launching a separate lawsuit against Google over the matter, the District of Columbia attorney general’s office said in a statement. announcement today. The goal: to obtain a court injunction to prevent Google from engaging in allegedly deceptive and illegal practices. Additionally, the search giant could potentially be ordered to pay penalties.

Attorneys general accuse Google of misleading Android users, as well as some of its other products, including Google Search, about how it collects their location data and how the collected data is used . Additionally, the search giant is accused of telling consumers they can manage the location data collected when in fact they have “effectively no way” to do so.

Google pushed back against the allegations today. The company said Axios that the case is based on “inaccurate claims and outdated assertions”.

One of the main areas of interest in the case is the set of settings that Google provides to disable location tracking. A setting called “Location History” allows Google to store a log of places users visit. From 2014 to at least 2019, Google said that if a user turns off Location History, “the places you go are no longer stored.” Attorneys general say the search giant actually continues to collect and store user locations even when the setting is turned off.

A second setting that Google is facing scrutiny on is the Web & App Activity option. The option is enabled by default. According to the attorneys general, the search giant suggested that the “pause” web and app activity setting allows users to prevent their location and related data from being recorded. In fact, according to the attorneys general, Google continues to store location data even when consumers opt out of the setting.

“Google falsely misled consumers into believing that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” the Washington attorney general said. DC, Karl Racine. “The truth is that contrary to Google’s portrayals, it continues to systematically monitor customers and profit from customer data.”

Another factor behind the lawsuits against Google is how the company collects location data on Android. According to Google, an option called Location Services in the operating system’s settings menu allows consumers to block apps from accessing location data. But Google reportedly “bypassed the setting and continues to find ways to collect and store users’ locations” even as they opt out of location services.

Another major focus of the lawsuits is the search giant’s alleged implementation of “deceptive design choices” in some of its services’ interfaces. These design choices, the attorneys general say, have changed users’ decision-making and led them to share more location data with Google. In one case, it was found that Google informed users that an app would not function properly without location tracking enabled, even though location tracking was not required to use the app. application.

‘Attorneys General are suing based on inaccurate allegations and outdated assertions about our settings’, Google Recount Axios in a statement. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will defend ourselves vigorously and set the record straight.

Photo: Bryce Edwards/Flickr

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