Karl A. Racine, Attorney General of Washington DC, is suing Google for the company’s alleged location tracking practices, which he believes are in violation of his state’s Consumer Protection Procedures act.
In a press release shared by Racine’s office today, Google is accused of “deceiving and manipulating consumers to gain access to their location data, including making it nearly impossible for users to stop their location from being tracked.” While the search giant seemingly provides a setting that allows users to easily and immediately opt out, Racine argues that tracking remains in place regardless of what they pick, with data continuing to be collected and stored for purposes that include monetization.
“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” said AG Racine.
“The truth is that contrary to Google’s representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data. Googles bold misrepresentations are a clear violation of consumers’ privacy. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan group of attorneys general that will hold Google accountable for its deception. Through this lawsuit, we will hold Google accountable, and in the process, educate consumers on how their personal data—particularly sensitive data about their physical location—is collected, stored, and monetized. This result of our collective action is that consumers, not Google, will determine how their data is or is not used.”
Racine’s investigation was prompted by a story published by the Associated Press in 2018 that revealed Google had been tracking its users’ movements even when they had switched their Location History setting to off. Google claims that places are no longer stored once Location History is disabled, but the AP reported that wasn’t true, as some Google apps continued to automatically store time-stamped location data.
That said, saved location data can be removed from the company’s servers through a manual, “laborious” process via myactivity.google.com.