In a significant development affecting Alphabet Inc’s Google,a judge in Arizona has ruled, Google has deceived users with unclear smartphone location tracking settings; the court refused to toss out a lawsuit brought on by the state’s attorney general.
Google had sought summary judgment to get the case thrown out at an early stage arguing that the state had failed to show that its consumer fraud law could apply and noted that the company’s disclosures about privacy settings has been clarified since the case was brought nearly two years ago.
The court ruling comes a day after attorneys general from Indiana, Washington state, Texas and the District of Columbia sued Google on similar grounds as the Arizona case.
According to the court ruling, the state can proceed with claims that Google may have engaged in deceptive practices and failed to disclose its location tracking capabilities to phone buyers and app users. The judge rejected a third argument that Google deceives users by taking location data to help sell ads.
In a blog post, Google applauded the dismissal of what it termed as the state’s central argument.
“We will continue to focus on providing simple, easy-to-understand privacy settings to our users, and will not be distracted from this work by meritless lawsuits that mischaracterize our efforts,” reads the blog post.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich called the ruling a “great win for Arizona consumers.”
The lawsuit revolves around the fact that despite the fact that users of Google’s Android operating system disabled the Location History feature to limit the search engine giant from tracking their location, Google still had their location saved to their Google account through another setting, Web App and Activity.
Google and prosecutors have sparred over whether Android users realized the fact that they needed to disable both settings to keep Google from tracking them.
In April 2021, the Federal Court in Australia had determined in a similar lawsuit that Google had misled consumers.
Penalties are yet to be determined.