Australian Watchdog: Google Misleads Consumers About Data Collection

Rancakmedia.com - An Australian federal court found that Alphabet's Google misled some consumers about personal location data collected via Android mobile devices, the country's competition authority said on Friday.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it was seeking clarification and punishment from Google although it did not provide a number.

"This is a major win for consumers, especially those concerned about their online privacy, because the court's decision sends a strong message to Google and others that large companies should not mislead their customers," said Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, in a statement.

This case revolves around certain Google settings related to the collection of location data, location history, and web and app activity.

The court found that Google falsely claimed it could only collect information from location history settings on users' devices between January 2017 and December 2018.

The setting to control web and app activity when enabled also allows Google to collect, store and use data and is enabled by default on the device.

Users are not informed that disabling location history and enabling the “Web and app activity” setting will be possible Google to continue collecting data, the court found.

The court will have to decide what it deems to be violations and how many have occurred, but the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) quoted ACCC chair Rod Simms as saying regulators would seek "millions" in fines.

A Google spokesperson said the company is reviewing its options.

“The court rejected many of the ACCC's public claims. We disagree with the remaining findings and are currently reviewing our options, including a possible appeal," the spokesperson said.

The tech giant has been embroiled in legal action in Australia over the past few months as the government considered it and then passed laws making Google and Facebook pay media companies for content on their platforms.

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