Prosecutors in several US states sued Google on Monday, accusing it of collecting geolocation data from Internet users even when they expressly refused, which the group denies.
The group notably offers users of the Android operating system or owners of an iPhone using a Google account to activate the option preventing the collection of geolocation data.
According to the document filed on Monday by the prosecutors of the federal capital Washington, Indiana, Texas and the state of Washington, even when the option was activated, “Google continued to collect and store” data relating to the location of Internet users.
This data came from internet activity, application use, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth interactions.
This discrepancy between the features offered and their effects on the use of geolocation data was uncovered in 2018 by the Associated Press news agency. The dispatch published by AP caught the attention of prosecutors in several states, who launched their own investigation.
According to prosecutors, the relevant period is from 2014 to at least 2019. Each of them has taken legal action in their state and are asking judges to order Google to cease these practices.
They are also asking for reimbursement of the revenue generated through the collection and use of geolocation data, as well as fines, of an unspecified amount.
Asked by AFP, Google argued that the lawsuit “(relyed) on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions. We have always built data protection options into our products and offered to effectively control geolocation data.”
“We will vigorously defend ourselves and restore the truth,” a spokeswoman explained. , which listed a list of “improvements” that Google has implemented “in recent years.”
It includes options that allow, according to the spokesperson, to automatically erase data from geolocation over time or to search for an address or place without the data being stored.
Google has been the subject of several legal actions in recent years.
In July, 36 states and the Washington district attorney sued Alphabet's subsidiary for allegedly anticompetitive practices related to its Google Play app store.
Two other lawsuits are pending in the United States regarding the dominant position of Google's search engine, and a third is related to the technology used in advertising.