Google fined millions for misleading Australians with location settings

Google must pay a $60 million fine for misleading Australian citizens with its location data settings. The federal court ruled in April last year that Google had broken the law, but the fine has only now been announced.

According to the Australian consumer watchdog ACCC, Google misled citizens with its Location History and Web & App Activity settings from early 2017 to late 2018. The watchdog states that with those two settings, Google made it appear that Google only collected and used location data when Location History was turned on. In reality, this also happened if the Web & App Activity setting was enabled.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission therefore launched a lawsuit against Google in October 2019; in April last year, the Australian federal court ruled in favor of the watchdog. Under the ruling, Google and the ACCC had to come up with next steps together. This resulted in a fine of sixty million Australian dollars, converted 41.5 million euros. The federal court has approved this finewhich means that the American company now has to pay the fine.

ACCC board member Gina Cass-Gottlieb speaks of a “significant” fine and says companies and platforms should not mislead consumers about how their data is collected and used. The watchdog estimates that 1.3 million Australian Google accounts have seen the infringing institutions. In December 2018, Google adjusted the settings, so that consumers are no longer misled, according to the watchdog.

The location data settings that Google used between April and December 2018. With these settings, Google would therefore save the user’s location, even if this was not explicitly stated.