Google Receives Mega $42+ Million Fine For Misleading Consumers Over Their Location Data Settings

Google is being forced to deal with the consequences of its actions after it was accused of misleading users regarding its data collection practices linked to locations.

Now, the tech giant has been served a mega fine that goes beyond the $42+ million (USD) by Australia for the type of Android settings it managed to apply about five years ago.

The fine was generated by the country’s Competition & Consumer Commission which brought the charges against the company and its subsidiary based in Australia.

The case from 2021 revealed during a court ruling how Google managed to mislead its consumers regarding both collections as well as the use of personalized forms of data. All of this had to do with where users were present during the time period of 2017 and 2018.

The court confirmed how Google was guilty of breaching the country’s law. Google had wrongly informed users that the only setting that would affect whether or not their location data was being collected or used was their ‘location history’ but that was far from the truth.

In reality, there were other settings in a place called the ‘Web and App Activity’. This allowed Google to take a hold of users’ location from their Android smartphones. Interestingly, the setting was even switched on as a default which again raised so many questions in people’s minds.

The news was confirmed via a statement in the form of a press release today, which is also referred to as a dark pattern. And while Google has been notorious for repeating the same behavior historically, it wasn’t going to get away with it in Australia.

On average, it has been highlighted how Google managed to trick about 1.3 million users from its platform into witnessing a screen that broke the Court of Law’s policy for consumer protection.

The chairman of the ACCC has condemned Google’s behavior by mentioning today how the huge penalty sends out a very important and strong message to other tech giants and firms. It’s a reminder that misleading consumers is not only wrong but unethical and those who break laws would be dealt with justly.

She followed the statements with a reiteration of how Google found it ok to continue collecting data despite users’ location history being off, thanks to information extracted via their Web & App activity.

Adding how location data is a very sensitive affair for consumers, it’s important to realize how Google used the information from others to gain benefits for itself through ad targeting. But the ACCC also mentioned how it was great of Google to realize its mistake and start making amendments by not showing users a screen that would allow such location data collection to be possible.

But last year, Google came forward and boldly denied the allegations brought up against it. It went against all the findings that were outlined and were in the talks of filing an appeal too. But in the end, it just didn’t and is now paying the price.

In all reality, this is definitely not very painful as things may have been if the events occurred at a more recent time. The fact that the incident or most of it took place before 2018 means the penalty was much lower than what may have been the case if the event took place now.

Now, it’s almost triple the cost as rules of infringement are harsher since more cases continue to enter the limelight. Similarly, we’re hearing more about how the ACCC has ordered Google to make sure it will be compliant with policies in the future while training its staff more about Consumer Law.

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