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An Australian court determined Google misled consumers about collecting personal location data through its Android OS, the competition regulator revealed, another blow to the search giant in the country.

The Federal Court ruled Google wrongly claimed it could only collect user information from the location history settings on Android devices, when its web and app activity setting allowed the company to gather data even when the location history setting was turned off, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) stated.

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ACCC chair Rod Sims said the “decision is an important step to make sure digital platforms are up front with consumers” about how they use their data “and what they can do to protect it”.

“This is an important victory for consumers, especially anyone concerned about their privacy online, as the court’s decision sends a strong message to Google and others that big businesses must not mislead their customers.”

Sims said in addition to seeking penalties, the ACCC wants Google “to publish a notice to Australian consumers to better explain” its location data settings, to ensure “consumers can make informed choices” about enabling services which collect such personal information.

Google faced a number of obstacles in Australia over the past two years, with the government in February passing a controversial law involving news content deals.

In July 2020, the ACCC filed a case against the search giant for misleading consumers about the expanded use of personal data for targeted advertising.

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