The District of Columbia and the states of Texas, Indiana and Washington Monday filed lawsuits against Alphabet’s Google over alleged deceptive location-tracking practices and violating the privacy of the users.
In separate lawsuits filed against Google, the attorneys general allege that the search engine giant has systematically deceived its users about its location tracking practices at least since 2014 and has misled them regarding the control they exercised over the information which is collected by the company. They argue that in reality the users have no meaningful control over the data collected, stored and processed by Google.
The lawsuits refer to a 2018 story by Associated Press which revealed that Google continues to track your movements “even when you explicitly tell it not to.”
“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” read the statement issued by the office of the Attorney General Karl Racine for the District of Colombia. The statement further states that despite Google’s bold representations to the contrary, the company continues “to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data.”
The statement released by the office of Washington state, Attorney General Bob Ferguson quoted him:
“Location data is deeply personal for consumers… This information reveals the most significant details of our lives. Google denied consumers the ability to choose whether Google could track their sensitive location data to make a profit. Google kept tracking individuals’ location data even after consumers told the corporation to stop. This is not only dishonest — it’s unlawful.”
The statement claimed that Google made nearly $150 billion from advertising in 2020 alone; and that since the location data was key to the company’s business, it had financial incentive to “dissuade users from withholding access to that data.”
A similar case was brought against Google in 2020 by the Attorney General of Arizona. Granting Google’s motion for summary judgement in part and denying it in part, the judge in the case ruled Tuesday that the lawsuit against the tech giant should move forward to a trial.
However, Google’s statement released on its blog applauded the Arizona legal ruling, claiming that the judge rejected Arizona Attorney General’s central argument. The blog further states that the recent lawsuits against it “mischaracterize and inaccurately describe the settings and controls we provide users over location data.”