Google LLC, the giant US-based multinational company, is being sued by Australia’s watchdog for allegedly keeping track of mobile phone user’s location without their knowledge. This is one of the latest privacy-related court cases that is gaining a lot of attention. Recently, several similar cases have come over the surface, and they involve some of the world’s most prominent technology organizations.
Google’s privacy controls under fire
The privacy controls of Google have drawn criticism in the past. To handle the situation, the business entity had taken a series of steps to centralize them and make them more transparent. In spite of this, it remains highly fragmented across various settings.
The consumer watchdog from Australia is suing Google as well as its local subsidiary, accusing the company of misleading the users to get permission to track their location. The issue mainly lies in Google’s Location History setting that is available in the Android phones. Google shows to its users that by turning the feature off, the company will not be able to store the data relating to its location. But the users need to switch off the “Web & App Activity” tracking so that their location data can truly be blocked.
Google has been misleading the customers
The Chair of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Rod Sims has stated that “We allege that Google misled the customers by staying silent about the fact that another setting also had to be switched off,”
A Google spokeswoman states that the tech-giant was reviewing the allegations that had been made against it, and the firm intended to defend the controversial matter.
The Australian watchdog further stated that Google had also misled the users as it had not communicated to the customers that their location data would be collected and used by it for the customer’s use of Google services like maps function.
ACCC has claimed that Google used the location data about the customers to personalize its advertisements, provide statistical data to third parties, and deduce demographic information.
Allegations against Google
The period of the complaint that is made in Australia’s Federal Court spans from January 2017 to late 2018. In addition to this, there is also a supplementary issue that has been raised relating to the second half of the year 2018. Google hid the fact from its customers that they could truly disable the location feature by switching off both the “Location History” as well as the “Web & App Activity.”
Measures against Google
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) seeks penalties along with the setting up of compliance programs for future activities. It also wants that other stringent measures should be taken so that customers will not be misled in the future, and their data cannot be used against their knowledge. According to Sims, Australia’s consumer watchdog also has the power to levy penalties, which can be as high as 10 percent of the business revenue.
This Australian case is the latest in the series of legal actions that have been directed at large tech-organizations such as Facebook and Google over the use of user data.