May 27, 2020 - Technology

Arizona sues Google over location tracking

A photo illustration of a Google Maps logo on a smartphone.

Photo Illustration: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona's state attorney general sued Google on Wednesday, accusing the company of violating state law by misleading customers on its location tracking practices.

Why it matters: This opens up yet another legal front for Google at a time when it's also facing antitrust scrutiny at the state and federal level.

Details: Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich began investigating Google's privacy practices in 2018, after an Associated Press investigation found that some Google apps stored location data despite location history being turned off.

  • The lawsuit, filed in state court, alleges Google violated the state's consumer fraud law by misleading customers about whether they were truly able to stop location tracking.
  • "I think it’s very important to protect Arizona consumers, especially the privacy rights of anyone here in Arizona — they’ve been led to believe they could opt out location tracking, but Google continues to invade their personal privacy," Brnovich told Axios. "It’s become nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements."
  • Google clarified the way it handles the storage of location information shortly after the AP published its story.

What they're saying:

“The Attorney General and the contingency fee lawyers filing this lawsuit appear to have mischaracterized our services. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We look forward to setting the record straight.”
— Jose Castaneda, Google spokesperson

Between the lines: This case is separate from the broader, state-led antitrust investigation into Google, although Arizona is also part of that investigation.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Google.

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