Google violated the law on collecting location data by deceiving Android users on mobile devices, an Australian court on Friday ruled in a landmark decision. Rod Sims, its director, indicated that the US tech giant could face “several million” dollars in fines in the case brought to court by the Australian Competition and Consumers Committee (ACCC). Federal court ruled that in 2017 and 2018, Google deceived some Android phone and tablet users by collecting their location information even when they chose not to share data from the Location History. It ruled that Google had not specifically made clear that allowing “web and app activity” to be tracked as a separate setting on their device includes location data. Numerous studies conducted around the world have shown that the collection of location data by Android and iPhone devices is done without users’ knowledge or explicit consent. This data is especially valuable for advertisers who offer products and services based on location.
Google is considering the possibility of an appeal
For Mr. Sims, this is the world’s first such decision. “This is an important victory for consumers, and especially for anyone concerned about their privacy on the Internet, as the court ruling sends a strong message to Google and other companies: Big companies should not deceive their customers,” he said. In his ruling, Federal Court Judge Thomas Tauley “partially” approved the ACCC’s complaint against Google, stating that “the company’s behavior would not have deceived all rational users” of its services. However, he made it clear that Google “misled or was likely to mislead some rational users” and that “the number or percentage of rational users who were, or are likely to be, not matter” to prove the crime. Sims told ABC television that the Anti-Corruption Commission intends to receive fines of up to $ 850,000 (710,000 euros) for each violation, or a total of “several million” dollars. For its part, Google protested against this decision, which, according to the giant, rejects some “public requests” from the ACCC and only concerns specific users, and announced that it is studying the possibility of an appeal. “We offer strong location data controls and are always looking to do more – for example, we recently introduced options for automatic location history deletion, which makes monitoring your data easier.” A spokesperson for the group added.