Indiana AG Todd Rokita sues Google over 'deceptive' location tracking practices

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Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita's office announced it has launched a lawsuit against Google alleging the tech giant can use multiple methods to track users' location data even when users believe location tracking has been disabled.

The legal complaint claims Google provides users with the option of turning off tracking through the Location History section in their account settings, but even with that disabled the company uses other settings to harvest location data.

"Depending on a consumer’s other settings, Google collected and stored a consumer’s location data through Web & App Activity, Google apps on the consumer’s device, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scans from the consumer’s device, Google’s Location Services feature, (and) the consumer’s IP address," according to the complaint.

Information regarding the Web & App Activity and Location History settings were omitted or misrepresented to users "from at least 2014 to at least 2019," the complaint reads.

'Harming Hoosiers through unfair practices': Indiana AG Rokita joins suit against Google

'Protecting Hoosiers from Big Tech'

The complaint cites a 2018 report by the Associated Press, which brought the methods to light.

The AP investigation reported that simply opening Google Maps created a "snapshot" of a user's location, and weather updates on Android phones "pinpoint roughly where you are."

"And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like 'chocolate chip cookies,' or 'kids science kits,' pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude — accurate to the square foot — and save it to your Google account," according to AP. At the time, Google told AP through a spokesperson that it provided "clear descriptions" of all its tools and gave users the ability to disable them and delete their histories.

“Protecting Hoosiers from Big Tech’s deceptive and unfair practices continues to be a major focal point of my administration,” Rokita said Monday in a statement. “Consumers tend to believe the promises that companies make to them, and I’m here to hold businesses accountable when they unlawfully betray consumers’ trust.”

More: AG Todd Rokita investigating big tech over what he says is conservative 'censorship'

Attorneys general in the District of Columbia, Texas and Washington said they filed similar complaints against Google on Monday. Rokita's office said it worked in "bipartisan collaboration" with those offices.

Indiana's legal battles with tech giants

In July the Indiana Attorney General's Office joined 36 other state attorneys general to sue Google in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California over practices that allegedly give the company a monopoly over the Android app market.

Three months earlier, Rokita's office announced in April it was pursuing a civil investigation into five big tech companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter — over alleged censorship practices.

In the complaint released Monday regarding location tracking, Rokita is asking the court to order the company to stop these practices, pay consumer restitution, give profits obtained from any illegal practices to Indiana and pay civil penalties for violating Indiana's consumer protection laws.

More: Civil rights groups confused by Indiana AG Todd Rokita's statement on big tech

Call IndyStar courts reporter Johnny Magdaleno at 317-273-3188 or email him at jmagdaleno@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @IndyStarJohnny

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana Attorney General Rokita sues Google over 'deceptive' tracking

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