Australia Fined Google

Australia Fined Google $42.5 million Over Misleading Android Settings: Data Privacy Trends

Apparently, Europe isn’t the only continent that takes data privacy seriously! Recently, Australia fined Google $42.5 million over misleading Android settings!

According to The Register (Google fined $42.5m over misleading Android location settings in Australia, written by Richard Speed), Australia fined Google A$60 million ($42.5 million) in penalties to Australia’s competition and national consumer law regulator regarding the collection and use of location data on Android phones.

According to the release by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the fine relates to a period between January 2017 and December 2018 and follows court action by the ACCC.

According to the regulators, Google misled consumers through the “Location History” setting. Some users were told, according to the ACCC, that the setting “was the only Google account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept and used personally identifiable data about their location.”

Apparently, it was not. Another setting titled “Web & App Activity” also permitted data to be collected by Google. And it allowed the collection of “personally identifiable location data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default,” the ACCC said.

The “misleading representations,” according to the ACCC, breach Australian consumer law and could have been viewed by the users of 1.3 million Google accounts in Australia.

Google “took remedial steps” and addressed the issues by December 20, 2018, but the damage was done and the ACCC instituted proceedings in October 2019. In April 2021, the Federal Court found that Google LLC (the US entity) and Google Australia Pty Ltd had breached Australian consumer law.

ProSearch

The A$60m was awarded against Google LLC rather than its subsidiary Google Australia Pty Ltd (“in circumstances where the Australian company was not responsible for the preparation of the screens which the Court found were misleading”).

Google was also ordered to ensure “certain staff” were trained in Australian consumer law and pay a contribution to the ACCC’s costs.

These are fines for activity that happened four to five years ago. Wow. Never say never!

So, what do you think? Are you surprised that Australia fined Google for something that happened so long ago? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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One comment

  1. Hmmm. Let’s see. $42 million. Google generates $500,000 a minute in advertising revenue. So it will take them 84 minutes to cover that $42 million. They must be shaking.

    What’s missing from the article: EVERYBODY does it. Amazon, Apple, Google, the whole Rat Pack. Ask any network or IT pro: even they have difficulties understanding how to configure platform setting to protect their clients. Because the Rat Pack will do anything/everything in their power to stop you having control over “their” data. I am sure you have seen this, but Dilbert absolutely nails it here: https://dilbert.com/strip/2010-11-21

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