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by Natalia Revishvili on October 29th, 2019

Australia filing a lawsuit against Google

Australia has accused Google of misusage of personal location data they gathered from Australian citizens. It was proclaimed that the company is misleading Australians about how exactly it is collecting their location data. That definitely has done no good to an already damaged reputation of Google, as there were lots of regulatory pressure coming from society towards Google.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (or ACCC) filed a lawsuit against Google this Tuesday and stated that the company “engaged in misleading conduct and made false or misleading representations to consumers” in relation to location data.

Regulators from all over the world were already worried about the control Google has over data it holds, as well as increased scrutiny over its search and data practices. The company had to face tough new regulations coming from the EU tech giants, court cases, and antitrust fines. Moreover, the US Department of Justice has published a huge antitrust review about Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

This lawsuit filed by ACCC is notably the first serious court case. We might say that the case itself is a result of an 18-month inquiry into Google and Facebook (as well as other tech-related platforms) that proclaimed that there are more regulation and control needed toward tech companies in order to enhance competition in the media industry.

The development of technologies can sometimes blindfold the consumer. Experts believe that on-screen messages on smartphones and tablets make users believe that their location and personal data is safe, even though that is not the case.

ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, stated:

“We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations, Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers’ location without them making an informed choice.”

In response, the Google representative said:

“We continue to engage with the ACCC and intend to defend this matter.”
The ACCC research shows that during the period from January 2017 to late 2018 Google was making its users setting up a Google Account that would allow the company to get their location data. Regardless of whether users switch off the Location History or not. Notably, to stop sharing your location data with Google, you need to not only switch off the Location History but also Web & App Activity.
Rod Sims said:
“Many consumers make a conscious decision to turn off settings to stop the collection of their location data, but we allege that Google’s conduct may have prevented consumers from making that choice.”
Therefore, the ACCC is asking the court to impose penalties and orders that would make Google to publish corrective notices, as well as a compliance program. The measures that were taken by the ACCC show how crucial it is for users to get back the control over their personal and location data.

By Natalia Revishvili

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