Google Sued by Texas, Washington, D.C. Over Customer Surveillance: ‘Clear Violation of Consumers’ Privacy’

Texas and the District of Columbia sue Big Tech platform for invasion of user privacy.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Texas and the District of Columbia sued Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Monday over what he called deceptive location tracking practices that invade users’ privacy, Reuters reports.
  • Two other state attorneys general also plan to file lawsuits as part of a bipartisan effort to hold Google accountable over privacy issues, Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine’s office said in a statement.
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that Google misled consumers by continuing to track their location even when users sought to prevent it.
  • Google has a “Location History” setting and informs users if they turn it off “the places you go are no longer stored,” Texas said, adding that Google “continues to track users’ location through other settings and methods that it fails to adequately disclose.”
  • The lawsuit also alleges that “Google manipulates its users through deceptive design choices that alter user decision-making,” according to Protocol.
WHAT THE D.C. ATTORNEY GENERAL SAID:
  • “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,” Washington, D.C. AG Racine said, according to Reuters.
  • “The truth is that contrary to Google’s representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data. Google’s bold misrepresentations are a clear violation of consumers’ privacy.”
WHAT GOOGLE SAYS:

Google Spokesperson Jose Castaneda said the “attorneys general are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”

BACKGROUND:
  • The suit is the latest fallout from a 2018 report in the Associated Press that showed Google continued collecting sensitive information about users’ locations even when they specifically opted out of the “Location History” setting, Protocol reports.
  • In May 2020, Arizona filed a similar lawsuit—currently pending—against Google over its collection of location data of users, Reuters notes.