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New lawsuits claim Google tracked you even when you told it to stop

The lawsuits say the platform has used “dark patterns” to trick users into agreeing to data collection.

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Image: KnowTechie

Google has found itself to be the target of yet another group of lawsuits. Attorneys General from the District of Columbia and three different states have sued the search giant. The lawsuits claim that Google tracked users’ location even when it was told not to.

Thanks to a press release from the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, we now know that D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine, along with Attorneys General from Indiana, Texas, and Washington, have all filed separate lawsuits against Google.

The lawsuits allege that since at least 2014, Google has made “misleading promises” that users can control the type of data that the company collects. They say that from 2014 to 2019, Google told its users that turning off “Location History” on Google apps and Android devices would mean that it would no longer gather location data from the places you visit.

READ MORE: Google cheats restaurants out of delivery fees, says class-action lawsuit

“That is false,” reads the Attorney General’s statement. “Even when Location History is off, Google continues to collect and store users’ locations.” The suit even says that Google made it impossible for users to opt-out of having their location data tracked.

Additional information from the press release includes:

“The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that since at least 2014, Google has systematically deceived consumers about how their locations are tracked and used and has misled consumers to believe that they can control what information Google collects about them. In reality, there is effectively no way for consumers to prevent Google from collecting, storing, and profiting from their location data. Google’s deceptive location tracking practices impact users of smartphones running on the company’s Android operating system, but they also extend to consumers who use Google products, including Google search and Google Maps, on non-Android devices.”

The lawsuits also state that Google has relied on “dark patterns” to trick users into making decisions. Dark patterns are user interfaces that intentionally mislead the consumer. Platforms use them to trick the user into spending more money or, in Google’s case, to collect more data.

READ MORE: CDC secretly tracked our phones to monitor COVID-19 lockdowns

The lawsuits seek to fine Google for its misleading practices over the years. The suits also hope to stop Google from using these methods in the future. But Google says the lawsuits’ claims are using outdated information.

A company spokesperson told The New York Times that, “[T]he attorneys general are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings…We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”

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