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AGs to Sue Google, Alleging ‘Dark Pattern’ to Track Users – WWD

A multinational effort to disrupt Technology the companies proceeded on Monday when the attorney general from the District of Columbia sued Google through shady user tracking tactics, with AGs from Indiana, Texas and Washington set to follow suit.

For years, the search giant has offered privacy settings that seem to allow people to control data, such as location information. The AGs believe they made false promises and allege that between 2014 and 2019, the company ran a “dark pattern” designed to manipulate or push users into giving up location data.

Google uses tactics to continuously seek to track users’ locations,” explained Karl A. Racine, DC attorney general, who described the bipartisan lawsuit as “overdue enforcement action against against the flagrant violator of our state’s privacy and laws.”

Online advertising platforms rely on user tracking for ad targeting, a key method in big business across social, search, and video. Noting historic gains in digital ad spend, eMarketer expects even bigger growth this year, surpassing $500 billion.

With so much at stake, platforms aren’t likely to stop tracking users altogether. But as pressure mounts over privacy concerns, the focus will be on transparency. The goal is to make people aware of those features and give them control over the settings.

DC’s lawsuit filed Monday says Google has a “strong financial incentive” to make it difficult for consumers. It alleges that the company engaged in deceptive practices that misled people into thinking that turning off location settings would keep their whereabouts secret.

“However, even when consumers explicitly opt out of location tracking by turning off location history, Google still records the consumer’s location through other means,” the filing argues. . “While the Web & App Activity setting was automatically enabled for all Google accounts, the company’s disclosures during the Google account creation process did not address or attract consumer attention. use this setting until 2018”

The suit also describes “dark patterns” to influence user behavior, such as warning that disabling location sharing will affect the functionality of some apps.

In a statement to the media, Google denied the allegations and only updated in recent years to provide more transparency, simplicity, and control over location settings.

“The Attorney General is bringing a case based on inaccurate statements and outdated assertions about our settings,” said Google spokesman José Castañeda. “We always integrate security features into our products and provide robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set a straight record. ”

Google has faced lawsuits over privacy and advertising practices in the past, although the latest case comes amid a more recent and larger effort to keep Technology responsible company. The parent Alphabet of Google, Apple, Meta of Facebook, Amazon and others are facing increasing scrutiny over acquisitions, app store policies, market behavior and many other issues. On another matter, this could lead to more regulation of how Big Tech operates.

https://wwd.com/business-news/technology/google-lawsuit-dark-patterns-track-users-1235051267/ AGs to Sue Google, Alleging ‘Dark Pattern’ to Track Users – WWD

Linh

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