Google has said it is considering an appeal, after the Federal Court ruled the tech giant had misled consumers in regards to how it collected location data from Android devices.
The decision comes as a major win for the ACCC, which initiated the court proceedings in October 2019.
The competition watchdog argued that Google misled customers from 2017 to 2018 by having two settings – ‘location history’ and ‘web & app activity’ – relating to location data collection, with both needing to be switched off for Google not to collect location data.
In his judgment, Justice Thomas Thawley ruled that “Google’s conduct assessed as a whole was misleading or deceptive of, or likely to mislead or deceive”.
“I conclude that Google’s conduct assessed as a whole conveyed a representation that having ‘web & app activity’ turned ‘on’ would not allow Google to obtain, retain and use personal data about the user’s location.”
Thawley added that the conduct would mislead some but not all users.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said the decision will help set a precedent for digital platforms moving forwards.
“Today’s decision is an important step to make sure digital platforms are up front with consumers about what is happening with their data and what they can do to protect it.”
The Court is yet to determine the penalty for Google, although each breach could attract a fine of $1.1 million.
Google considers an appeal
And while the ACCC is claiming victory following the verdict, Google pointed out that the court had dismissed some claims.
“The court rejected many of the ACCC’s broad claims,” a Google spokesperson said.
Google confirmed it is now looking at the possibility of an appeal.
“We disagree with the remaining findings and are currently reviewing our options, including a possible appeal. We provide robust controls for location data and are always looking to do more – for example we recently introduced auto delete options for Location History, making it even easier to control your data.”
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