Washington DC AG sues Google for ‘misleading users and invading their privacy’

Deepak Gupta January 24, 2022
Updated 2022/01/24 at 3:17 PM

Google, which is no stranger to lawsuits over its practices these days, is facing a new legal onslaught from Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine. Racine (pictured) has launched a lawsuit alleging that Google violated the state’s Consumer Protection Procedures law, specifically on location tracking. Essentially, Racine believes that while Google says its users can choose not to have their whereabouts identified, that tracking remains in place. Racine’s claim is being mirrored by similar actions led by AG in Texas, Washington State and Indiana.

Much of this controversy was first publicized in 2018, when an Associated Press report identified that location tracking remained active, regardless of user choice. The claim says that between 2014 and 2019, despite these promises, tracking data was stored in a database of web and application activities. As our deep dive into the subject explained, Google allowed users to enter and delete their location from this file, but the process was slow and cumbersome.

“Google leads consumers to believe that consumers are in control of whether Google collects and retains information about their location and how that information is used,” the complaint reads. “In reality, consumers using Google products cannot stop Google from collecting, storing and profiting from their location.” He added that using dark standards to encourage a user to consent to data collection is harmful to consumers.

This case follows a historic lawsuit in Arizona that started in 2020, where AG Mark Brnovich wanted the company to return ad money to users who, although they had turned off tracking, but did not. In 2021, documents from that case emerged claiming that Google had sought to obscure settings that would allow a user to disable location tracking.

Ploonge has contacted Google for a response and will update this story when it arrives.

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