Services & Software

Google sued by multiple states over how it handles your location data

It's a bipartisan effort from Indiana, Texas, Washington state and Washington, DC.

Google is facing lawsuits related to its handling of location data.
Angela Lang/CNET

Attorneys general from Indiana, Texas, Washington state and Washington, DC, filed suits against Google over its use of location data, they announced Monday. The lawsuits, filed separately in each jurisdiction, allege that the search giant makes it "nearly impossible" for people to stop their location from being tracked, accusing the company of deceiving users and invading their privacy.

DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine began investigating Google's practices after the Associated Press reported in 2018 that Google "records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to."

"Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access," Racine said Monday in a statement. "The truth is that contrary to Google's representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data."

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They alleged that Google uses deceptive design methods -- a practice known as "dark patterns" -- to stop people from protecting their privacy. In Europe, these techniques were recently forbidden by the Digital Services Act.

In a statement emailed to CNET, Google highlighted the improvements it has made to make location easier to access and manage since the AP's report.

"The attorneys general are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings," Google spokesperson José Castañeda said. "We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight."

On Friday, Google filed a motion to dismiss a separate multistate lawsuit led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. That lawsuit accused Google of reaching an illegal deal with online ad rival Facebook.