Saturday, 13 August 2022 08:44

Federal Court fines Google $60m for collecting data on the sly Featured

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Federal Court fines Google $60m for collecting data on the sly Image by Kris from Pixabay

The Australian Federal Court has fined Google $60 million for misleading consumers about collection and use of personal data on Android phones between January 2017 and December 2018.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission initiated court action over the issue in October 2019. The court found that Google LLC and Google Australia Pty Ltd, which together make up Google, had breached Australian consumer law.

The company was found to have misrepresented the fact that the only setting in an Android system that could affect data collection was "location history".

However, another setting, "web and app activity" could also enabled data slurping by the system.

The ACCC estimated that 1.3 million users had been affected by this data collection under false pretenses. Google fixed the issue by December 2018.

“This significant penalty imposed by the court... sends a strong message to digital platforms and other businesses, large and small, that they must not mislead consumers about how their data is being collected and used,” ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said in a statement.

“Google, one of the world’s largest companies, was able to keep the location data collected through the 'Web & App Activity' setting and that retained data could be used by Google to target ads to some consumers, even if those consumers had the 'Location History' setting turned off.

“Personal location data is sensitive and important to some consumers, and some of the users who saw the representations may have made different choices about the collection, storage and use of their location data if the misleading representations had not been made by Google.”

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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