AG Ferguson files lawsuit against Google for secretly tracking users’ location

Washington state is suing Google for allegedly deceiving consumers and invading their privacy by making it nearly impossible for them to stop their location from being tracked.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleged that Google collected data on the location of its users even after consumers turned off "Location History" in their account settings.  

"Location data is deeply personal for consumers," Ferguson said. "This information reveals the most significant details of our lives. Google denied consumers the ability to choose whether Google could track their sensitive location data to make a profit. Google kept tracking individuals’ location data even after consumers told the corporation to stop. This is not only dishonest — it’s unlawful."

Google told users when "Location History" was disabled, the company did not continue to store the user’s location. 

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According to Ferguson’s office, Google’s help page stated, "With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored," but the lawsuit claimed the statement was false. 

The District of Columbia, Indiana and Texas are other states filing similar lawsuits in their state courts.

The company, based in Mountain View, California, is disputing the claims.

"The attorneys general are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings," Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement. "We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data."

In December 2020, 10 states led by Texas filed a federal suit against Google accusing it of "anticompetitive conduct" in the online advertising industry, including a deal to manipulate sales with rival Facebook.

In October 2020, the U.S. Justice Department joined by 11 states filed a landmark antitrust suit against Google for allegedly abusing its dominance in online search and advertising.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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