US attorneys general sue Google over using 'trickery for profits'

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Four US attorneys general are suing Google for what they claim is the company "using tricks" to force users to provide location data that it then profits from.

Following previous lawsuits against Google over location tracking, such as a 2018 one by an individual, a group of US attorneys general have jointly filed suits in the Districts of Columbia, Texas, Washington and Indiana.

According to the Washington Post, DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) said that the courts are the best place to take on Big Tech. "When you file a lawsuit," he said, "you can't lobby a judge. We're going to take it to the court."

"Google uses tricks to continuously seek to track a user's location," continued Racine. "The time of trickery for profits is over."

"This suit, by four attorneys general, on a bipartisan basis," he continued, "is an overdue enforcement action against a flagrant violator of privacy and the laws of our states."

The suit alleges that Google "uses tricks to continuously seek to track a user's location." It claims that the company pressures users so that they leave on tracking settings "inadvertently or out of frustration."

"Google's misleading, ambiguous, and incomplete descriptions of these settings all but guarantee that consumers will not understand when their location is collected and retained by Google or for what purposes," says the suit. "And, in reality, regardless of the settings they select, consumers who use Google products have no option but to allow the Company to collect, store, and use their location."

The Washington Post reports that a previous lawsuit over the issues was recently met with skepticism by a judge. In January 2022, Judge Timothy J. Thomason ruled that there were factual issues that had to be resolved through a trial.

"We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight," Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda, told the Washington Post.

Previously, both Google and Apple have taken steps to protect users' location privacy, including banning an app that was selling data to the US military.