Oz court says Google partially misled consumers over collecting location data
Google was accused of having grown into a trillion-dollar company by collecting as much data as it possibly could and selling it to advertisers
Australian federal court has ruled that tech-giant Google has been "partially" misleading consumers about collecting their location data.
The court found that Google continued to collect "Location History" on some Android and Pixel phones, even for customers who ticked "No" or "Do not collect" on their settings.
The consumer rights watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), had accused Google of breaching the consumer law and misleading consumers, which was accepted by the court.
'If a customer said no to Location History, but left Web & App Activity switched on, Google continued to collect location data, the ACCC said.
Justice Thomas Thawley of the federal court said this was "partially" misleading. It is the world-first ruling on location data issues.
Justice Thawley said that some consumers would have been misled, as they believed this data would not be collected, and others would not have.
The multinational tech company was found to have breached sections 18, 29(1)(g) and 34 of the consumer law.
"The ACCC submitted that the first representation was misleading because if the Web & App Activity setting was left turned 'on', Google continued to collect and store such data," Justice Thawley observed and said that he was accept this submission.
"Google's conduct would not have misled all reasonable users in the classes identified; but Google's conduct misled or was likely to mislead some reasonable users within the particular classes identified. The number or proportion of reasonable users who were misled, or were likely to have been misled, does not matter for the purposes of establishing contravention," the federal court said.
Google was accused of having grown into a trillion-dollar company by collecting as much data as it possibly could and selling it to advertisers.
It was pointed out that most people did not understand Google's complex data laws as a consumer needed a university education to understand what takes that an average of 74 minutes to read and understand most of Google's terms and conditions.
It was further explained that despite selecting 'No' or 'Do not collect' options in a phone's location history, data was still being collected due to a complex setting left switched on in the phone's settings.
A spokesman for Google said it "disagreed" with the judge's findings and was considering an appeal.
"We provide robust controls for location data and are always looking to do more – for example we recently introduced auto delete options for Location History, making it even easier to control your data," the Google spokesman was quoted as saying by the Australian media.