Google “Tracking” You Without Permission? WA Lawsuit Says Yes
WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against the world's largest search engine provider, claiming they're illegally tracking people.
THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME WA STATE AND OTHERS HAVE TANGLED WITH THE DIGITAL GIANT
According to the lawsuit, which is being filed in King County, Ferguson's office said:
"Google collects data on the location of its users even after consumers turn off “Location History” in their account settings."
According to the lawsuit, as far back as 2018, Google's "confusing" privacy practices made it difficult for consumers to truly turn of all tracking by the company. According to Ferguson's office:
"Google told users that when Location History was disabled, the company did not continue to store the user’s location. For years, Google’s help page stated, “With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.” That statement was false. For example, the company collects location data under a separate setting — “Web & App Activity” — that is defaulted “on” for all Google Accounts."
In addition, the lawsuit states that Google "nudges" consumers into turning on the location data when they open such apps as Google maps, implying these won't work unless Location History is turned on.
The suit also says Google is able to continue tracking Android phones, even with the location access turned off.
STATE SEEKING MASSIVE SETTLEMENT
According to the Consumer Protection Act, a penalty of up to $7,500 can be levied for each individual violation, it is believed the number of incidents of illegal tracking could be well into the hundreds of thousands. The suit also demands Google relinquish profits that were derived from these deceptive practices.
This is not the first such action against Google, in 2020 WA and 38 others State Attorney's General filed a suit accusing them of illegally using their dominance by leveraging against other, smaller such platforms in order to gain more control of the market. The company was also paid penalties in June of 2020 for violating the state's campaign disclosure laws.
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