On Monday, the District of Columbia and three states sued Google, alleging that the tech giant deceived consumers in order to access their location data.
In separate lawsuits, the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Texas, Washington, and Indiana said that Google is misleading users of Android phones and tools such as Google Maps and its search engine by continuing to track the location information of users who have changed their privacy settings to prevent data access. collection.
Carl A. Racine, D.C. Attorney General, led the complaints after a three-year investigation that was launched after an Associated Press report showed the company was recording users’ movements even when they were told not to. He said investigators found that since at least 2014, Google has been making misleading and contradictory statements to consumers about the privacy protections offered through his account settings.
The DC lawsuit alleged that even when a user changed their account or device settings to stop location tracking, Google still collected and stored that information through Google services, Wi-Fi data, and marketing partners. The search giant has also misled and pressured users into enabling more location tracking, such as stating that products would not work properly if the location services setting was disabled, when in fact there was no need to use application, according to the lawsuit.
“Google has falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings will allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company can access,” Mr. Racine said in a statement. “The truth is that, contrary to Google’s claims, it continues to systematically follow customers and profit from those customers.”
“Attorneys General is bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated claims about our settings,” said José Castaneda, a Google spokesperson. “We have always built privacy features into our products and ensured that we have strong control over location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and rectify the situation.”
Google is also fighting an antitrust lawsuit filed by Texas in which states have accused the company of obtaining and abusing a monopoly on systems that allow publishers to auction ad space to marketers. On Friday, Google asked a federal court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The lawsuits amplify a growing regulatory push to limit the power and business practices of Silicon Valley giants Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. Dozens of antitrust, consumer protection, privacy and trade lawsuits have been filed by state and federal regulators in an attempt to curb business models or divide companies. Last week, a Senate committee put forward potentially landmark antitrust legislation that seeks to weaken the dominance of the internet giants.
The attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Texas, Washington, and Indiana said their lawsuits, filed under local consumer protection laws, seek to penalize Google and stop its practice of collecting location data for users who opt out. Attorneys general also joined other antitrust lawsuits against Google for allegedly damaging competition in search and advertising technologies.
“Google puts profit before people,” said Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. “He prioritizes financial returns over law enforcement.”