According to Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google misled users into thinking that their personal location data will not be collected through android devices.
Google misled users about location data setting
A federal court established that when new users created a Google account and while setting up android devices the company misled them to believe that their personal data will only be collected if they switched “location history” on. According to ACCC, the tech giant could collect data if the “web and application activity” setting was on, despite the “location history” being off. ACCC, which had launched legal proceedings against the company in 2019, indicated that the ruling is a massive victory for consumers regarding online privacy protection.
Interestingly the federal court established that Google was still collecting, storing, and using personally identifiable location data provided web and application activity is on. In a statement ACCC chair Rid Sims said that the ruling is a massive win for users, more so those concerned with online privacy. He said the court’s decision is a strong message to the tech giants and other businesses regarding misleading consumers.
Google facing scrutiny in Australia
Google has in recent months faced increased scrutiny in the country as the government mulled over passing a law that will make social media companies pay mainstream media companies for the content appearing on their sites. A company spokesperson said that the court had rejected most of the competition authority’s claims. The spokesperson said that Google disagrees with the rest of the findings, and they are reviewing options, including a possible appeal.
Following the legal proceedings, Google has since enhanced user control and transparency which includes an auto-delete function for location history plus an incognito mode for Maps. The ACCC will consider pecuniary penalties, declarations, compliance orders, and publication orders but has not specified the amount. Besides the penalties, the ACCC is seeking an order for the company to publish a notice explaining the location data setting. According to Sims, this will allow users to make informed choices regarding leaving Google settings enabled.