Google Sued for Location Data Tracking by U.S. States, D.C.

Three U.S. states, Washington, Texas, Indiana, and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., for “deceptive” location-tracking misconduct, embarking into users’ privacy. 

“Google falsely led customers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” the office of Attorney General of Washington D.C., Karl Racine’s said in a statement. 

However, Google “continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data,” the statement added, addressing the giant’s demeanor as “a clear violation of consumers’ privacy.”  

According to one Google spokesperson, Jose Castaneda, the attorney generals’ case is not based on accurate allegations, adding their information is outdated when it comes to the company’s tracking settings.  

“We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight,” Castaneda expressed. 

Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, claims the search engine titan has intentionally distorted its users by proceeding in its consumer location tracking activity, despite users turning it off in their account’s settings. Paxton further highlighted that Google has a “Location History” setting and notifies users who choose to restrict it that the “places that you go are no longer stored.” 

Texas added that the giant had maintained the tracking activities of its users’ location by using diversified tactics – which Google intentionally refrained from disclosing. 

As for Washington, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson revealed that in 2020 the Mountain-View company gained an estimate of $150 billion from advertising alone, mainly steered by the gathered users’ location data.  

“Location data is key to Google’s advertising business. Consequently, it has a financial incentive to dissuade users from withholding access to that data,” D.C.’s Attorney General’s office said in a statement. 

This, however, is not the first-time state Attorneys General filed such lawsuits against the search engine titan. In May 2020, Arizona submitted a similar legal action against Google for unlawfully collecting consumers’ location data.  

The lawsuit is still pending approval. 

According to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, “the stunning allegations in this bipartisan suit by four attorneys general show, yet again, that tech companies continue to mislead, deceive, and prioritize profits over protecting user privacy.” 

“Congress must urgently meet this moment in the privacy crisis by passing a comprehensive law that provides the privacy protections that Americans need and deserve,” Blumenthal added.