On Monday, Washington D.C., Indiana, Texas, and Washington State filed a lawsuit against Google, alleging that the tech company deceptively collected information from users who believed they had disabled tracking.
“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” DC Attorney General Karl Racine said. “The truth is that contrary to Google’s representations, it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data.”
In a statement, the office of the Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson said that “location data is key to Google’s advertising business.” And “consequently, it has a financial incentive to dissuade users from withholding access to that data.”
The lawsuit stems from an Associated Press report from 2018 that revealed many Google apps on both iOS and Android operating systems track users even when they have opted out of having their data collected. And even when the user chooses a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so. The AP says its findings were confirmed by computer-science researchers at Princeton.
The complaint alleges that the tech giant used workarounds, such as collecting a user’s IP address to learn their location, without the user knowing. It asserts that any mobile user who interacted with Google was affected.
The complaints were filed using “inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings,” according to Google spokesman José Castañeda, CNN Business reports.
“We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data,” he added. “We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”
The suit seeks an injunction against Google and also wants the company to pay out any revenue made from the alleged deceptive practice of deceiving its customers.