Recently Google had to backtrack on a planned move to remove permissions from the Google Play Store. User outrage over the search giant’s disinterest in their privacy, caused the company to reintroduce permissions and remove any chance for app developers to simply lie about the user data their apps were accessing. Unfortunately, however, news coming out of Australia seems to indicate that app permissions themselves aren’t enough as a safeguard as Google has been misleading users about the location data that was being collected on their Android devices. Here is what you need to know.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced it is fining Google $60 million for what it calls misleading practices relating to the collection of Android user location data between January 2017 and December 2018.
ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said that the fine marks not only punitive damages for Google but should also act as a deterrent against further privacy-related deceptions in the future:
“This significant penalty imposed by the Court today 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.”
The move from the ACCC is a result of Google continuing to track the location data from some Android users’ phones even after they had disabled the Location History settings on their device. This meant that while they believed Google was not tracking data relating to their location, in fact, in some cases tracking was in fact occurring. According to the ACCC, more than 1.3 million Australian Google accounts were affected in this way.
Google is no stranger to fines like this, but it is disappointing to see the internet giant acting this way, at a time when online user privacy is such a hot topic. In this regard, Meta has just announced that it is seeking to automatically protect Messenger chats with end-to-end encryption.
Image via: ACCC