Google is being sued as they misrepresented that if consumers turned off location history on their app it would prevent the company from processing their location data for advertising purposes. In reality, they continued to track the data even after users disabled their location tracking and personalization settings. The Washington Attorney General requested that the court issues a permanent injunction and issue fines for each misrepresentation.
The Attorney General states that consumers have been deceived since at least 2014 and that while they were led to believe they had control over their data there was nothing to stop Google from collecting, storing and profiting from their location. The lawsuit has been filed due to alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Attorney Generals in 37 states have also filed similar lawsuits against Google including Indiana, Columbia and Texas.
The tech giant deceptively gave users the belief that they had control over how their data was collected. However, the reality is that it is incentivized to dissuade users from withholding access to their data. Alongside this, if a consumer did decide to withhold that data and disabled their location history they are told that their location data is no longer stored. When, in actuality, recent evidence suggests that the information is continuously stored even when those settings have been turned off. The CPA prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the pursuit of trade or commerce.
It is being argued that Google processes location data without their knowledge and consent by:
- Misrepresenting that disabling location settings would prevent the company from processing and storing location data
- Misleading consumers that they could prevent Google from using their location for targeted ads
- Failing to make clear the information that could be processed due to the web and app activity settings
- Not disclosing that Google apps that are denied permission to access location data can still obtain it through other means available such as other Google apps
- Implementing practices that make it difficult for consumers to deny the Google access to and use of their location information:
- i.e. dark patterns
Prayer for relief
The Attorney General requests that the court declares that Google has engaged in the conduct complained about and that this constitutes unfair or deceptive acts in violation of CPA. They wish them to be issued with a permanent injunction preventing them and any representatives or associates to continue with this conduct. They also wish to see fines of up to $7,500 per violation issued for each violation alleged in the complaint.
Value Privacy are here to help you navigate privacy laws and your data practices. Mistakes are incredibly costly so don’t wait for it to happen to you. Contact us to find out how we can help.