News Flash: Google Tracks Your Location

That is probably not news to most people.

What is probably news – maybe – is that even when you think you tell Google not to collect and store your location data – it does so anyway.

Or, at least, that is the several lawsuits claim.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in a District of Columbia court, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine alleges Google has “systematically” deceived consumers about how their locations are tracked and used. He also says the internet search giant has misled users into believing they can control the information the company collects about them.

The DC AG says “in reality, consumers who use Google products cannot prevent Google from collecting, storing and profiting from their location”.

And, just in case you think the DC AG has gone crazy…

The Attorneys General of Texas, Indiana and Washington state have all filed similar lawsuits.

If you think about it, Google makes 80% of their revenue from selling ads. Location is an important part of selling targeted ads. Showing me an ad for a restaurant or retail store a thousand miles away is unlikely to translate to a sale. Location is very important to them.

Google, of course, says these Attorneys General are wrong and Google deeply cares about your privacy. I would add to that …. unless it affects our profitability.

In December 2020, ten states filed a federal lawsuit accusing Google of anticompetitive conduct.

In October 2020, the U.S. Justice Department joined by 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for abusing its online search dominance.

European regulators have imposed multi-billion dollar fines for anti-competitive practices.

In May 2020, Arizona filed a lawsuit accusing Google of deceiving customers about protections for their personal data. Documents unsealed in this case showed some Google engineers were troubled by the way the company secretly tracked movements of users who did not want to be followed.

There seems to be an awful lot of smoke here for there to be no fire, but it will be years before all of this plays out. Still, get some popcorn. It will be interesting.

Credit: Security Week

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