Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine is leading a new lawsuit against Google, along with three other attorneys general. The suit alleges that Google makes it extremely difficult and “nearly impossible” for users not to have their locations tracked, even with the ability to modify privacy information from the Google account settings.
The Washington Post (via GSMArena) reports that allegations mentioned in the new lawsuit date back to 2014. Attorneys general of Texas, Washington, and Indiana are also filing separate but similar lawsuits based on the allegations.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Google convinces users to provide additional location information either “inadvertently or out of frustration,” adding that this violates multiple state and D.C. consumer protection laws. Google is also accused of using “dark patterns” to influence customer behavior. This refers to mechanisms designed to get consumers to give up location information willingly.
In response to the lawsuit, Google said it would “vigorously defend” itself
Google spokesperson, José Castañeda, clarified the company’s stance and the next steps. “The Attorneys General are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings.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.”
AG Racine said that Google’s alleged location tracking practices primarily impact Android users. However, he said that it could also impact non-Android users if they’re accessing the company’s services such as Search or Maps.
Another lawsuit filed by a group of attorneys general led by Texas AG Ken Paxton addresses the company’s sketchy practices in the ad-tech sector. This suit alleges that Google wanted to consolidate the advertising market by signing a “secret” agreement with industry rival Meta.
As with most lawsuits filed against the company, Google flatly rejected the claims, while requesting a federal court to drop four of the six charges in the lawsuit. The search giant then issued a lengthy rebuttal on its blog, alleging AG Paxton of making “inaccurate and inflammatory allegations.”
There has been a growing chorus among lawmakers to rein in the practices of Big Tech. Based on the events of the past year, things could get quite rocky for corporations going forward.