Australia’s federal court found that Alphabet’s Google misled some consumers about personal location data collected through Android mobile devices, the country’s competition regulator said on Friday.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was seeking an announcement and penalty from Google, although it did not specify an amount.
ACCC President Rod Sims said in a statement, “This is a significant win for consumers, especially for someone concerned about their privacy online, as the court ruling gives a strong message to Google and others Goes that big businesses should not mislead their customers. ”
The case revolves around specific Google settings related to its location data collection, location history, and ‘web and app activity’.
The court found that Google incorrectly claimed that it could only collect information from location history settings on user devices between January 2017 and December 2018.
A setting to control web and application activity, when turned on, enables Google to collect, store and use data and was turned on by default on devices.
Users were not informed that Location was turning off history, but dropping the “Web and App Activity” setting would allow Google to continue collecting data, the court found.
The court will need to decide what violations it considers and how many occurred but Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) quoted ACCC President Rod Sims as saying the regulator would seek fines of “several millions”.
A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing its options.
The spokesman said, “The court rejected several of the ACCC’s broad claims. We disagree with the remaining findings and are currently reviewing our options, including a possible appeal.”
The tech giants have been embroiled in legal action in Australia in recent months as the government subsequently passed a law to pay Google and Facebook media companies for content on their platforms.