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Google Australia misled customers on data collection: Federal Court

The Australian Federal Court has found that Google Australia misled customers about what personal data it was collecting between January 2017 and December 2018.

The Court found that the technology company wasn’t clear about how it was collecting location data, stating that turning off ‘Location History’ on Android devices would cease all location data collection, when in fact another setting, ‘Web and App Activity’, would continue to collect, store and use personally identifiable location data.

This setting was turned on by default, and made no indication that it was using customer’s data in that way.

“This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the Court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome in this world-first case.

“Companies that collect information must explain their settings clearly and transparently so consumers are not misled. Consumers should not be kept in the dark when it comes to the collection of their personal location data.”

As a result of the Court’s decision, the ACCC is seeking declarations, pecuniary penalties, publication orders and compliance orders, which will be determined at a later date.

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