Arizona AG lawsuit alleges Google illegally tracked Android users

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,389   +553
Staff member

Google finds itself in hot water again as Arizona's attorney general files a lawsuit claiming it illegally tracked users' locations without consent. Almost two years ago, the state opened an investigation into the search giant's location tracking practices. According to the findings, Google continued to log users' locations even after they had disabled tracking.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich says Google has violated Arizona privacy laws by not only tracking without user consent but also in selling the data to advertisers.

"At some point, people or companies that have a lot of money think they can do whatever the hell they want to do, and feel like they are above the law," Brnovich told The Washington Post. "I wanted Google to get the message that Arizona has a state consumer fraud act. They may be the most innovative company in the world, but that doesn't mean they're above the law."

The lawsuit is asking the court to force Google to payback revenue earned from the alleged illegal advertising. Additionally, under Arizona's anti-fraud legislation, a judgment against the company could result in fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

"The Attorney General and the contingency fee lawyers filing this lawsuit appear to have mischaracterized our services," said Google spokesman Jose Castaneda. "We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight."

This statement may be accurate, but a simple look into its tracking policies is confusing, and disabling location logging entirely is not that straightforward. Even with location data turned off, apps like Chrome, Google Maps, and Google Search still record your location unless you dig further into the Android settings.

"When consumers try to opt out of Google’s collection of location data, the company is continuing to find misleading ways to obtain information and use it for profit," said the Brnovich.

Of course, completely turning off location tracking is going to make some apps unusable, which is why it is not recommended. However, while Google is claiming to be transparent, unless a user has thoroughly read its location tracking policies and knows where the relevant settings are, it's not a walk in the park to get Google off your back.

Image credit: Google Maps by Piotr Swat, Incognito by Sam Kresslein

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brucek

Posts: 388   +433
Legal filing here:
https://www.azag.gov/sites/default/...mplaints/Google_Complaint_FILED_5-27-2020.pdf

I haven't read this one yet, but they can make for good reading with more details on the underlying facts and legal issues than you'd get in a brief news article.

For example, the complaint by the New York attorney general against time warner / spectrum explaining all the ways they intentionally screwed over their ISP customers remains a favorite of mine that I gave to many of my friends who until then thought "well its mostly just that the Internet gets busy sometimes."

My second favorite is probably the scorching legal response from the Blue Jeans cable owner to Monster Cable's attempt to sue him for some vaguely alleged infringement. IIRC as of years later Monster never even wrote back.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,076   +5,435
Bottom line. Once convicted, Alphabet & Google shall be ordered to surrender 1/2 of their sales & profits (whichever is larger) for distribution to all users. Company officers shall surrender all bonuses, stock options and anything above salary to the same. Upon a repeat infraction that figure shall increase to 75% with a final warning that a 3rd offence shall result in forfeiture of the company and prison sentences for all corporate officers. Should a 2nd offence occur, the Govt. shall put in place Federal level auditors (Inspector generals) with authority to see, touch, take possession of any and all corporate information, records, receipts, etc. for the purpose of investigation and verification of proper application and function. Lastly, should the government take possession of said companies / assets it shall be reestablished as a separate Govt. Agency including it's own Inspector General and serve at the privilege of the taxpayers with an independent oversight group.
 

tacobravo

Posts: 45   +40
C'mon guys, these companies been tracking and recording everything we do for decades now so this shouldn't come as a surprise
 
Ask the AG how many geofence warrants have they executed with the help of Goggle. Can't have your cake and eat it too!
 

treetops

Posts: 2,966   +740
Wow, every time I see Arizona in the news I cringe like a Florida man, what a relief, go get em AZ.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,242   +3,333
Ask the AG how many geofence warrants have they executed with the help of Goggle. Can't have your cake and eat it too!
:facepalm: Gagme helping with legal geofence warrants does not give them the right to perform illegal acts.