Google misled some customers over location services data
Tech giant Google misled some Android mobile users when it came to their personal data.
In a landmark ruling today, the Federal Court found between January 2017 and December 2018 Google was collecting location data from users who tried to turn it off.
The Court ruled when users created a new Google Account when setting up their Pixel phone, it misrepresented the privacy around location services.
Between 2017 and 2019, 280,00 of these phones were sold in Australia.
Google is accused of giving users the impression that when they turned “location history” off their location data wouldn’t be collected.
Consumers were also misled because Google did not inform them that by leaving the “Web & App Activity” setting switched on, Google would continue to collect, store and use their personally identifiable location data.
“This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“Today’s decision is an important step to make sure digital platforms are upfront with consumers about what is happening with their data and what they can do to protect it.”
The Court also found that Google’s conduct was liable to mislead the public.
“We are extremely pleased with the outcome in this world-first case. Between January 2017 and December 2018, consumers were led to believe that ‘Location History’ was the only account setting that affected the collection of their personal location data, when that was simply not true,” Mr Sims said.
“Companies that collect information must explain their settings clearly and transparently so consumers are not misled. Consumers should not be kept in the dark when it comes to the collection of their personal location data.”
A Google spokesperson said the tech giant is looking at its options.
“The court rejected many of the ACCC’s broad claims. We disagree with the remaining findings and are currently reviewing our options, including a possible appeal,” the spokesperson said.
“We provide robust controls for location data and are always looking to do more – for example we recently introduced auto delete options for Location History, making it even easier to control your data.”