After going head-to-head with Google to make the search giant agreeing to its Media Bargaining Code, Australia is now faced with another ugly truth!
On Friday, the country’s competition regulator said that Australia’s federal court found Google misled its users about location data collection on Android devices between 2017 and 2018.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, aka ACCC that launched legal proceedings against Google back in 2019, said that the federal court’s ruling is a significant victory for consumers when it comes to safeguarding online privacy.
Now, how exactly Google ‘misled’ its users?
Well, it let Android users think that the search giant won’t be able to collect any personal data if they simply kept their locating history setting turned off.
However, the court found that even when the setting was disabled, Google was very much able to collect, store and make use of personally identifiable location data if the settings for ‘web and application activity‘ were turned on.
In a statement about the federal court’s ruling, Chair Rod Sims said that it is an important victory for consumers or simply anyone concerned about their privacy in the digital space. The Australian Court’s decision surely sends a powerful message to Google and other big tech firms that they must not mislead their customers.
When enquired about the same to Google, a company spokesperson went on to point out that the federal court had rejected several broad claims of Australia’s competition regulator.
The Google spokesperson said that the company disagrees with the remaining findings and is currently reviewing its options, including a possible appeal.
Following the legal proceedings of ACCC, the tech giant since then has improved user transparency and control by including an auto-delete function for history and an incognito mode for Google Maps.
After the federal court’s ruling, the ACCC is now seeking pecuniary penalties, declarations, publication orders and compliance orders. However, it didn’t yet specify the amount.
Sims mentioned that besides the penalties, the competition regulator also seeks to make Google publish a notice to its Australian consumers to better explain the company’s location data settings in the future. It would allow users to make far better and informed decision when it comes to leaving specific settings enabled in Android devices.
All in all, it is well understood that Google’s murky past has finally caught up with them, and there’s no room left for the tech giant to escape the consequences. Previously, as mentioned earlier, the Australian regulator locked horns with Google and Facebook over a media law that requires digital platforms to pay for news. Australia was able to pass the law in parliament in February.
It now remains to be seen how will Google respond to this newly introduced fork in the road by Australia. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.