Lawsuits filed Monday by attorneys general allege that Google used “deceptive and unfair” practices to trick users into giving up valuable location data.
The suit was filed in Washington, DC civil court centers by attorneys general from DC and three other states.
According to the New York Post, Google allegedly used “dark patterns” in users’ account settings to trick people into giving up detailed location data. This data helped the company make money from effectively targeting online ads. For example, Google Maps has users share their location history in order to “get the most from Google maps.”
Similarly, Google “nudged” users who declined to share location history with several prompts encouraging users to turn on the setting. The attorneys general wrote, “By repeatedly ‘nudging’ users to enable Google Account settings, Google increases the chances that a user will enable the setting inadvertently or out of frustration.”
The suit also states that Google gave “misleading, ambiguous, and incomplete descriptions” of their location and privacy settings, leading many to believe they were not sharing information with the company even when they were.
“These practices harm consumers who wish to protect their sensitive location information from disclosure to Google and Google’s advertising customers, by making it difficult for consumers to deny Google access to their location information, regardless of whether that information is needed to provide services to the consumer,” attorneys general wrote.