Google must face Arizona lawsuit against tracking services, judge rules

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing Google claiming the company uses deceptive practices to obtain users' location data

An Arizona judge has refused to toss out a lawsuit brought against Google by the state's attorney general, which alleges that the Alphabet-owned tech giant uses unfair practices to obtain and utilize users' location data.

"Great win for Arizona consumers today," Attorney General Mark Brnovich told FOX Business in a statement following the court's decision regarding his suit against Google. "For too long, the company has allegedly used deceptive and unfair practices to obtain users’ location data to help fund its lucrative advertising business. We will not stand by as Big Tech continues to invade Arizonans’ personal privacy."

Mark Brnovich

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, R. (AP / AP Images)

The attorney general also celebrated the ruling on Twitter, calling it "a major victory against Google."

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Brnovich's office launched a probe into Google's practices in 2018 after an Associated Press investigation "found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so."

When he first filed the suit in May 2020, the attorney general said that "Google surreptitiously collects locations information through other settings such as Web & App Activity and uses that information to sell ads," arguing that the company's disclosures at the time "misled users into believing that setting had nothing to do with tracking user location."

Google apps

Google thumbnails including Google Apps like Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Drive, Hangouts, etc. as seen on a phone screen. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Google had attempted to have the suit thrown out, arguing that the state had failed to show that the company's policies violated Arizona's consumer fraud law and pointing out that it has since clarified its privacy disclosures to customers.

In his ruling, Judge Timothy Thomason acknowledged that the state's "contention that Google's alleged deception is in connection with the sale or advertising of merchandise is, at times, somewhat strained," and partially granted Google's request for summary judgment "as to the state's theory that the sale of ad placements to their parties is connected to a consumer sale." The judge denied Google's motion to toss the case in all other respects.

Google

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - OCTOBER 28: Google headquarters is seen in Mountain View, California, United States on October 28, 2021. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Google issued a statement to FOX Business that read, "Today, a court in Arizona made a significant legal ruling against the Arizona Attorney General. The AG is somehow claiming this as a big victory but in reality, a judge rejected his central argument."

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The company added, "Unfortunately, just before today’s decision, four other state attorneys general rushed to file similar lawsuits making similarly inaccurate and outdated claims."

The decision in Arizona comes the day after attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and the states of Washington, Indiana and Texas all sued Google on similar grounds, Reuters reported.