Google sued by Arizona over allegedly illegal location tracking

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Google logo (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has been sued by Arizona over its location-tracking practices.
  • The state accuses Google of tracking Android users even when they manually disabled location services and using that data to serve ads.
  • The company claimed that the claims were a mischaracterization.

Google has been sued by the state of Arizona due to its allegedly illegal tracking of Android users' locations. The company was accused of keeping tabs of users, even those who had turned off location tracking features manually.

The Washington Post reported:

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in arguing that Google, the maker of the Android smartphone operating system, set up its mobile software in a way that enriched its advertising empire and deceived device owners about the protections actually afforded to their personal data, running afoul of Arizona consumer-protection laws that prohibit companies from misrepresenting their business practices.[...][T]he state alleged in its complaint Wednesday that these devices still recorded and kept location records for certain apps — including mapping and weather — as well as searches, even for users who disabled location tracking.The heavily redacted filing appears to suggest other instances in which Google may have misled users about location tracking. Menus were hard to find, and in some cases, Google changed the default tracking settings "without informing the user, much less seeking or obtaining consent," Arizona contends. In doing so, state officials faulted Google for "uncooperative conduct, delay tactics, and general failure to comply" with the attorney general's demands for records.

In a statement to The Verge, Google contested the allegations, claiming:

The Attorney General and the contingency fee lawyers filing this lawsuit appear to have mischaracterized our services. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight,

Google has been sued for various privacy and competitive violations over the past year, with results varying for the tech firm. It triumphed against censorship accusations but lost to child-safety claims. These new allegations about location tracking, while Google claims they "mischaracterize" their services, are something that the company has been criticized for. Whether it is lawsuit worthy is one thing, whether Google should do something about it on a moral basis is another matter entirely.

Michael Allison