This morning, the attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Indiana, Texas, and Washington will sue Google for deceiving consumers about how it continually tracks their location even when this feature has been disabled in their smartphones.
“Google uses tricks to continuously seek to track a user’s location,” D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine said. “This suit, by four attorneys general on a bipartisan basis, is an overdue enforcement action against a flagrant violator of privacy and the laws of our states.”
According to the only report about the complaint, which will be filed today, Google has misled consumers about its tracking efforts since at least 2014 and it uses a variety of tricks to undermine their privacy. Google, the suit claims, uses “dark patterns” to subtly influence their privacy decisions in ways that are more advantageous to Google than they are to customers. That users, “inadvertently or out of frustration,” cede their location data to Google because of these practices. This violates various state and D.C. consumer protection laws.
The suit seeks to fine Google and prevent it from engaging in these practices.
Not coincidentally, Google this morning published a blog post, penned by its Privacy & User Trust product manager, explaining how the firm makes it easy for customers to protect their privacy and “control their ad experience.”
“To celebrate Data Privacy Day, we’re highlighting how we keep you safe online—and reminding you of the controls available to you,” the post explains. “Everything we build at Google is secure by default, private by design, and keeps you in control. It’s how we ensure that everyday [sic], you’re Safer with Google.”