Google sued by Arizona over collecting user location data

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(Bloomberg) -- Arizona claims Google is illegally collecting information on the whereabouts of its users even after they opt out of providing access to location data.

With the location tracking setting turned off, the Alphabet Inc. unit collects information deceptively through other user settings, such as “Web & App Activity,” according to a lawsuit filed in state court Wednesday by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

“Google makes it impractical if not impossible for users to meaningfully opt-out of Google’s collection of location information,” according to the lawsuit, which is based in part on a 2018 report from the Associated Press.

“This is contrary to the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and even the most innovative companies must operate within the law,” Brnovich said in a statement.

Google disputed the claim and said it’s looking forward to setting the record straight.

“The Attorney General and the contingency fee lawyers filing this lawsuit appear to have mischaracterized our services,” Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesman, said in a statement. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data.”

A coalition of 48 state attorneys general, including Arizona’s, is also probing the company over allegations that it’s violating antitrust laws.

The company faced at least one consumer lawsuit over the location tracking practice, although courts have backed the company in the case. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued over the issue in October.

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