A few years ago security researchers discovered that Google continues to collect location data from iOS and Android users even when they paused their “Location History”, with some Google apps storing time-stamped location data without asking the consumer’s consent.
Now Techdirt reports that in a belated prosecution, the Arizona Attorney General is taking Google to court for the offence.
“Google told users that “with Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.” But as the AP article revealed, this statement was blatantly false — even with Location History off, Google surreptitiously collects location information through other settings such as Web & App Activity and uses that information to sell ads,” notes the complaint. “At the same time, Google’s disclosures regarding Web & App Activity misled users into believing that setting had nothing to do with tracking user location. Google’s account set-up disclosures made no mention of the fact that location information is collected through Web and App Activity, which is defaulted to “on,” until early-to mid-2018.”
The prosecution is being led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich who is suing Google for violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.
“At some point, people or companies that have a lot of money think they can do whatever the hell they want to do, and feel like they are above the law,” Brnovich said. “I wanted Google to get the message that Arizona has a state consumer fraud act. They may be the most innovative company in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re above the law.”
Tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are currently being targetted by the DoJ and bipartisan groups for their dominance of technology life in general and trade and advertising on the internet in particular. It remains to be seen if this will result in an enduring change in practices from the tech giants.