Washington AG and others sue Google over location monitoring

Bob Ferguson
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. (GeekWire File Photo / Dan DeLong)

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson will file a lawsuit Monday against Google claiming that the tech giant uses “deceptive and unfair practices” to track and collect location data.

The lawsuit alleges that Google misled consumers about storing location information even after the “Location History” setting is disabled.

“Google denied consumers the ability to choose whether Google could track their sensitive location data to make a profit,” Ferguson said in a news release. “Google kept tracking individuals’ location data even after consumers told the corporation to stop. This is not only dishonest — it’s unlawful.”

Three other attorneys general from Indiana, Texas, and the District of Columbia also filed separate lawsuits about the matter.

“The Attorneys General are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda said in a statement. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”

Washington’s AG cited a 2018 story from the Associated Press that examined how Google collects location data even after pausing the “Location History” setting through its Maps app or weather updates on Android phones, for example.

“In the aftermath of the AP story, Google made some changes to its language about location settings — however, Google continues tracking location data even after consumers turn off ‘Location History,’” Washington’s AG news release noted.

This is the latest lawsuit filed against Google by Ferguson. Others include a suit related to political advertisements filed in March that was settled in June; another last year related to Google’s app store; and an antitust-related suit filed in December 2020.

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