ACCC says Google misled consumers about location data collection, use

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Google Australia ACCC

Google may be THE only search engine you trust in the world but more than just being a tech giant, the company has since grown into a multinational technology brand. But to be more specific, it is under Alphabet Inc. Technically, Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet but for many people, the correct name doesn’t matter. Google is Google. It’s what introduced Android to the mobile world. For over a decade, we have seen a technological revolution and several innovations.

More often that not, they are useful. However, Google has demonstrated some questionable moves. They are too many but in Australia, Google is facing a lawsuit pertaining to the idea that it misled consumers about some personal location data collected through Android phones between January 2017 and December 2018.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed an action against Google for misleading consumers. In a statement, ACCC Chair Rod Sims said: “This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers.”

Sims added: “Today’s decision is an important step to make sure digital platforms are up front with consumers about what is happening with their data and what they can do to protect it.”

The issue here mainly was about when a customer creates a Google Account to be used for the set-up process of a new Android device, Google is said to have misrepresented a few things. For one, it appeared that the ‘Location History’ setting was the only setting affected whether Google collected, used, or kept date about a consumer’s location.

A setting was discovered to be turned on by default. Another setting also known as ‘turned on by default’ is said to have allowed Google to collect and store and even use location data.

The court in Australia is saying Google misled the public. There is a common desire to ask for transparency from Google. The ACCC Chair also said: “Companies that collect information must explain their settings clearly and transparently so consumers are not misled. Consumers should not be kept in the dark when it comes to the collection of their personal location data.”

Google is expected to respond. The ACCC has been requesting for declarations, compliance orders, publications orders, and pecuniary penalties. Google is also expected “to publish a notice to Australian consumers to better explain Google’s location data settings in the future”. Hopefully, in the near future, people are provided informed choices all the time especially if it involves personal data.

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