Google Sued Over Location Privacy By Arizona Attorney General

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has sued Google for allegedly duping Android users by misrepresenting its practices regarding the collection of location data.

“This case concerns Google's widespread and systemic use of deceptive and unfair business practices to obtain information about the location of its users ... which Google then exploits to power its lucrative advertising business,” Brnovich alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said the complaint mischaraterized the company's services. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” he stated. “We look forward to setting the record straight.”

The allegations stem from a 2018 Associated Press report that Google stores location data gleaned from some services, including search and maps, even when users have attempted to prevent the data collection.

The AP specifically reported that even when the "Location History" setting is turned off, Google collects and stores some location data unless people turn off a separate setting -- "Web and App Activity."

After that report came out, Google revised a “help” page by adding language informing people that turning off Location History doesn't affect other location services, and that some location data may still be saved.

Brnovich alleges in the 48-page complaint that Google's original “Location History” setting misled users.

The attorney general also claims that Google “has pushed a variety of updates that automatically change the user's location settings and defaults without informing the user, much less seeking or obtaining consent.”

Large portions of the complaint are blacked out, including examples of updates that allegedly changed people's location settings.

The Associated Press report about Google also sparked a class-action complaint against the company in 2018 by Android users. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California dismissed that case late last year, but ruled that the consumers could beef up some of their claims and bring them again.

Brnovich isn't the only state attorney general to target Google. Others, including New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, have also sued the company over privacy issues.

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