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Three states, DC accuse Google of improperly accessing location data

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The attorneys general of three states and Washington, D.C., are filing lawsuits Monday alleging that Google deceived consumers into giving up their location data.

The suits allege that the search giant made misleading promises about how much privacy it could guarantee users dating back to at least 2014.

Google also allegedly used “dark patterns” — user interface tricks employed by websites to get individuals to do things against their will — to inadvertently make consumers share more data, the attorneys general claim.

“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,” D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) said in a statement.

The attorneys general of Texas, Washington and Indiana are expected to file lawsuits in their own states as well.

“Google’s founding motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil,'” Texas’s Ken Paxton (R) said. “And yet it systematically lies to millions of consumers in order to stack billions of dollars into its coffers.”

Google spokesperson José Castañeda said in a statement that the AGs are “bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings.”

“We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” he added.

D.C. first opened an investigation into Google in 2018 after a report by the Associated Press that the company was tracking mobile phone users’ movement even after they opted out of collection. 

Arizona’s attorney general brought a case against Google making similar arguments about location data collection. 

An Arizona judge earlier this month signaled that he has reservations about some of the claims in that case, noting in a ruling that a consumer could conclude their location information is being used even if they’ve turned off location history. 

Updated at 10:59 a.m.

Tags Google Lawsuit Privacy

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