Google convicted of consumer fraud in Australia

Google has collected location data against the stated will of Android users. That was decided by an Australian federal court. The company faces a fine of “many millions” of dollars. But Google is fighting back.

According to a judgment, Google has evaluated location data against the will of users.

DThe American digital and advertising company Google has been convicted in Australia of consumer deception: A federal court ruled on Friday that it had collected location data from users of Android devices against the declared will of them. Competition and Consumer Protection (ACCC) chief Rod Sims said Google would face a fine of “many millions” of Australian dollars. The ACCC had sued Google.

The court ruled that Google had misled users of smartphones and tablets with Android because the group saved their location data in 2017 and 2018, even though the users had not clicked on the permission to share this data. Google did not make it clear that the users nevertheless consented by allowing their network and app activities to be tracked in a different setting.

The location data of the users is valuable for companies, they can use it, for example, to tailor advertising for products and services better to the addressee. The Australian Consumer Protection Agency said on Friday that the ruling was “the first of its kind in the world for location data”. It is an important victory for consumers and a “strong signal” for Google and other large corporations not to deceive their users. Digital platforms have to inform their users of their own accord about what is happening with the data and how users can protect them, explained ACCC.

Google announced that the group was considering to appeal. The judgment only affects a small, “narrowly defined” group of users. Google gives its users the “effective” control of their location data, “and we always strive for improvement”. For example, Google recently introduced the automatic deletion of location data history.