Google is being sued by four different US states for illegally collecting location data. These are the states of District of Columbia, Texas, Washington and Indiana.
Complaint against Google
The four states’ charges come after a three-year investigation. The states attorneys general say the tech giant is tricking users into accessing their location data.
DC Attorney General Karl Racine says Google has misled consumers into believing that adjusting settings could help protect their privacy. According to Racine, Google continued to track users and the company made money from the data.
In the complaint, Google is accused of tracking location data through Google products, Wi-Fi data and advertising partners, even when users have opted out of being tracked in their account settings.
Location data is valuable to large tech companies that sell ads. By collecting information through location data, Google can advertise very specifically and show local search results. The ads are also worth more this way because they are more likely to fit the person who sees them.
The complaint also says that Google uses so-called ‘dark patterns’. These are tactics to manipulate users so that, for example, they still choose to hand over data. Google would force users to still share data by, for example, claiming that certain Google products only work when you share your location. According to the four states, this must also come to an end.
Google states in response to the complaint that it is based on outdated information about the settings. They say they will defend themselves against the claims and would like to set the record straight. Google also indicates that it has worked very hard in recent years to make the settings understandable and to collect fewer data.
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