Google has been fined in Australia for misleading users about where and when personal location data is collected.
The fine is A$31 million, roughly 412 million Norwegian kroner, and Google confirmed it accepted the amount.
The issue actually dates back to January 2017, and even December 2018, when Google allegedly misled Australian users into believing that setting a Location History on their Android phones was the only way location data could be collected. .
In fact, there was another setting that also collected location data for users. Web and app activity monitoring functionality also allowed local data to be collected and stored, the Australian Consumer and Competition Authority says. They were the ones who sued Google, and thus eventually won.
According to authorities, as many as 1.3 million Australian users have been affected, and they say if Google made clear how data collection works, many more would likely make different choices.
“This significant sanction imposed by the court today sends a strong message to digital platforms and other companies, large and small, that they must not mislead consumers about how their data is being collected and used,” said the Australian Competition Authority chief. Consumer Rights, Gina Cass.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the case is now closed.
We’ve invested heavily in making location information manageable and easy to understand using industry-first tools such as auto-delete controls, while reducing the amount of data stored. As we’ve made clear, we’re committed to making constant updates that give users control and transparency while offering the most useful products possible, the spokesperson said in a statement.
So, it took until 2018 before Google tweaked the settings and made it clear to users what had already been collected.
There has also been a lot of interest around Google in Australia in the past year, when authorities consider forcing large companies to pay for news content they link to. This could have serious consequences for companies like Google and Facebook, which make a living by offering small previews of news and content.
“Web specialist. Lifelong zombie maven. Coffee ninja. Hipster-friendly analyst.”