A group of state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Google on Monday, arguing the company lied to its customers about its privacy settings in order to harvest their data.
The complaints, led by Democratic Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, in addition to attorneys general from Texas, Washington and Indiana, argue that Google uses deceptive practices to convince users that their location data is protected, the Daily Caller reports.
The attorneys general allege that Google falsely claims consumers can adjust certain account settings to increase privacy, including turning off location history “at any time.” The attorneys general argue that the claim is deceptive, as Google still collects and stores location data, even with “location history” turned off.
“Google’s misleading, ambiguous, and incomplete descriptions of these settings all but guarantee that consumers will not understand when their location is collected and retained by Google or for what purposes,” Racine’s complaint reads. “And, in reality, regardless of the settings they select, consumers who use Google products have no option but to allow the Company to collect, store, and use their location.”
The complaint also argues that Google uses design “dark patterns” to coerce users into sharing more data.
“For example, Google’s decision to enable the privacy-intrusive Web & App Activity feature by default, while failing to disclose this setting, was a deceptive use of design,” the complaint reads. “Through this dark pattern, Google not only misled users about the extent of its location tracking, but also made it difficult for users to opt out of this tracking.”