Google is asking a judge in Arizona to throw out a privacy lawsuit brought by Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who accused the company of duping Android users by misrepresenting its location data practices.
“The only products Google allegedly sold to Arizona consumers are smartphones, and the complaint fails to allege a single deceptive practice connected to those sales,” Google writes in papers filed last week with Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomason.
Brnovich's complaint, filed in May, stems 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.
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 alleged in the 48-page lawsuit that Google's original “Location History” setting misled users.
The attorney general also claimed that Google “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.
Brnovich contended that Google's actions violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, which prohibits companies from deceiving consumers in connection with the sale or advertisement of merchandise.
The complaint specifically alleged that Google's apps and the Chrome browser and Android are “merchandise.”
Google denies it failed to disclose its location data practices.
The company also makes several legal arguments for dismissal, including that it didn't "sell" apps or software to consumers.
"The AG ... alleges Google has deceived consumers through the 'sale' of items such as its apps, operating system and Chrome browser. But those products are not sold to Arizona consumers as the statute requires; they are free," the company writes.
Google adds that Arizona's consumer fraud law doesn't apply to “post-sale conduct," such as software updates. Whether Google prevails with that argument could turn on how Arizona judges interpret the words "merchandise" and "sale."
Google adds: “The only sale of merchandise that the AG has identified is the sale of Google’s Nexus and Pixel smartphones. But despite the AG’s filing a 45-page complaint with over 1,200 pages of exhibits, there is not a single allegation explaining what false statement Google made to consumers to induce them to purchase a Nexus or Pixel smartphone.”