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Google found to ‘partially’ mislead consumers

  • April 19 2021
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Google found to ‘partially’ mislead consumers

By Cameron Micallef
April 19 2021

Google has “partially” misled consumers by collecting some data on Android and Pixel phones even after the customer ticked “No” or “Do not collect”, a court has found.

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Google found to ‘partially’ mislead consumers

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  • April 19 2021
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Google has “partially” misled consumers by collecting some data on Android and Pixel phones even after the customer ticked “No” or “Do not collect”, a court has found.

Google

The Federal Court found that Google LLC and Google Australia misled consumers about their personal location data between January 2017 and December 2018.

The court ruled that when consumers created a new Google account during the initial set-up process of their Android device, Google misrepresented that the “Location History” setting was the only Google account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept or used personally identifiable data about their location.

In a judgment published on Friday, Justice Thomas Thawley said this was “partially” misleading consumers, with it being reasonable to believe that data that was collected would not have been.

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“I have concluded that the ACCC’s case under s 18 of the ACL is partially made out in respect of each of the three scenarios,” Justice Thawley said.

“Google’s conduct would not have misled all reasonable users in the classes identified, but Google’s conduct misled or was likely to mislead some reasonable users within the particular classes identified.

“The number or proportion of reasonable users who were misled, or were likely to have been misled, does not matter for the purposes of establishing contraventions.”

The ACCC called it an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers.

“Companies that collect information must explain their settings clearly and transparently so consumers are not misled. Consumers should not be kept in the dark when it comes to the collection of their personal location data,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

The court also found that Google’s conduct was liable to mislead the public.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome in this world-first case. Between January 2017 and December 2018, consumers were led to believe that ‘Location History’ was the only account setting that affected the collection of their personal location data, when that was simply not true,” Mr Sims said.

The court dismissed the ACCC’s allegations about certain statements Google made about the methods by which consumers could prevent Google from collecting and using their location data, and the purposes for which personal location data was being used by Google.

Google found to ‘partially’ mislead consumers
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

author image
Cameron Micallef

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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