While Google users may be using private mode to shield their data from unwanted visitors Google has continued, unknowingly, to track that data. Making up a multi-state lawsuit against the company amounting to an $85M payout to the state of Arizona.
According to The Verge:
“Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued Google in May 2020, claiming that “dark patterns” (design tactics that can manipulate user behavior) were built into its software on Android phones and apps. The suit argued that Google kept location tracking running in the background to collect advertising data, even after users had turned off location sharing, and made privacy settings to keep location information private needlessly difficult to find. This follows a 2018 report from The Associated Press that found Google tracks users through services like Google maps, weather updates, and browser searches, even with Location History switched off.”
Bloomberg has reported that this is one of the largest per capita consumer fraud lawsuits ever paid by Google. However this may just be the first of many as Arizona isn’t the only state to set up suits against the company. A group comprised of attorneys general from District of Columbia, Indiana, Texas, and Washington have also filed suits.
Google describes Web and Activity data as a user personalization feature, which is what these attorneys are mentioning as the misleading factor in their case. As many people believe once they disable the location features on Google their locations will no longer be tracked.
Even when the location settings are disabled, Google is still able to jump in and profit off the “hidden” data. The attorneys are asking in their suits that Google must turn over the technology that is capturing and tracking this data.