In brief: Google has seen no end to legal challenges both in the US and Europe. It’s latest is a lawsuit out of Arizona stemming from an investigation started in 2018. The state’s attorney general claims the company violated AZ law by tracking and selling its residents’ location data to advertisers.
Google finds itself in hot water again as Arizona’s attorney general files a lawsuit claiming it illegally tracked users’ locations without consent. Almost two years ago, the state opened an investigation into the search giant’s location tracking practices. According to the findings, Google continued to log users’ locations even after they had disabled tracking.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says Google has violated Arizona privacy laws by not only tracking without user consent but also in selling the data to advertisers.
“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 told The Washington Post. “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.”
The lawsuit is asking the court to force Google to payback revenue earned from the alleged illegal advertising. Additionally, under Arizona’s anti-fraud legislation, a judgment against the company could result in fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
“The Attorney General and the contingency fee lawyers filing this lawsuit appear to have mischaracterized our services,” said Google spokesman Jose Castaneda. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight.”
This statement may be accurate, but a simple look into its tracking policies is confusing, and disabling location logging entirely is not that straightforward. Even with location data turned off, apps like Chrome, Google Maps, and Google Search still record your location unless you dig further into the Android settings.
“When consumers try to opt out of Google’s collection of location data, the company is continuing to find misleading ways to obtain information and use it for profit,” said the Brnovich.
Of course, completely turning off location tracking is going to make some apps unusable, which is why it is not recommended. However, while Google is claiming to be transparent, unless a user has thoroughly read its location tracking policies and knows where the relevant settings are, it’s not a walk in the park to get Google off your back.