SYDNEY – Australia’s competition watchdog filed a lawsuit Tuesday against United States-based tech giant Google for allegedly misleading consumers about the personal location data the company collects, keeps and uses.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued Google on grounds that the American company had used sensitive information consumers provided without being properly informed.
“We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations, Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers’ location without them making an informed choice,” the ACCC’s chair, Rod Sims, said in a Tuesday statement.
The alleged breaches of the Australian Consumer Law were committed between January 2017 and late 2018. They focus on the “location history” and “Web & App Activity” Google account settings, according to the lawsuit filed in the Federal Court in New South Wales against Google and its subsidiary in the country.
The tech multinational “engaged in misleading conduct” and made “false or misleading representations” to consumers setting up a Google account on their Android mobile phones and tablets regarding the use and collection of location data, the regulator said.
The commission argues Google misled users by not adequately explaining that both these settings should be turned off manually if consumers did not want Google to collect, keep, and use their location information and that by activating “Web & App Activity,” the company would continue to collect data through their Android devices.
“Our case is that consumers would have understood as a result of this conduct that by switching off their ‘Location History’ setting, Google would stop collecting their location data, plain and simple,” Sims said.
“We allege that Google misled consumers by staying silent about the fact that another setting also had to be switched off,” he added.