Judge in Australia finds Google misled Android users about location data collection

A judge in Australia found Google misled users about personal location data the company collected via Android devices, a violation of Australian law, the Associated Press reported.

According to Federal Court Judge Thomas Thawley, the violations occurred between January 2017 and December 2018. Users creating a new Google account while setting up a new Android device were led to believe that the “Location History” setting was the only Google account setting that would determine if the company collected identifiable data about the user’s location. In fact, another Google account setting that was turned on by default — the “Web & App Activity” setting— allowed Google to collect and store personally identifiable location information when it was active.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the company’s consumer watchdog organization, said it is seeking penalties against Google, but did not specify an amount.

“This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

Google did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Saturday. But a spokesperson told the Associated Press that the company disagreed with the judge’s findings and was considering an appeal.

The company has been involved in legal action in Australia over the past several months. In February, the Australian government passed a law requiring Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content distributed on their platforms.

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