Racine is joined by Texas AG Ken Paxton, Washington AG Bob Ferguson and Indiana AG Todd Rokita. Paxton and Rokita are Republicans while Ferguson and Racine are Democrats.
"Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company would access," Racine said in a statement. "Contrary to Google's representations, it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data."
In a separate interview, the D.C. AG alleged the Big Tech firm "uses tricks to continuously seek to track a user's location." According to Racine, the lawsuits filed by him and the three other AGs "is an overdue enforcement action against a flagrant violator of privacy and state laws."
"These companies have become massive and powerful to an extent where they're able to forestall reasonable regulation. That time of trickery for profits is over."
Rokita concurred with his counterpart from D.C., saying: "Google has prioritized profits over people. It has prioritized financial earnings over following the law."
Google spokesman Jose Castaneda denounced the lawsuits from the top attorneys, saying the suits "are based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions." He added: "We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight."
According to Castaneda, the search engine giant has "always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data." He cited Google limiting data collection when users search for something: Data is now obtained from a general area instead of a precise location. The spokesman also mentioned that since 2019, Google has allowed users to automatically delete location data regularly.
Racine's lawsuit against Google filed on Jan. 24 argued that the tech giant "has a powerful financial incentive to obscure the details of its location data collection practices and to make it difficult for customers to opt out of being tracked." His suit added that Google still tracked users through other means even though they turn off the location history option on their settings.
Furthermore, Racine alleged that Google misled users from at least 2014 to 2019 by saying that the unauthorized tracking stops when location history is turned off. This proved to be untrue as the web and app activity option – which remained on – still allowed Google to collect location data.
The D.C. AG's investigation and subsequent legal action were prompted by an August 2018 article by the Associated Press (AP). According to the piece, researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey found that Google still continued to track users despite location activity turned off. The article included a map of places visited by Princeton researcher Gunes Acar, which was determined through his mobile phone.
"The company lets you 'pause' a setting called location history … [which] will prevent the company from remembering where you've been. That isn't true. Even with location history paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. It's possible, although laborious, to delete it," the article stated.
According to Princeton computer scientist Jonathan Mayer, storing location data against a user's preference is wrong. "If you're going to allow users to turn off something called 'location history,' then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off. That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have," he told AP.
Racine concluded his lawsuit: "Google's ability to amass data about consumers translates to better advertising capabilities and a greater share of the multibillion-dollar digital advertising market. The company's exhaustive surveillance practices are most effective – and therefore most lucrative – when consumers have no clear idea how to limit Google's access to their personal information."
Watch Paul Joseph Watson talking about Google's illegal location tracking below.
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