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Australia: Federal Court imposes $60M fine on Google LLC for misleading consumers

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ('ACCC') announced, on 12 August 2022, that the Federal Court had imposed a fine of $60 million on Google LLC for making misleading representations to consumers about the collection and use of their personal location data on Android phones between January 2017 and December 2018, following court action by the ACCC.

Background to the case

In particular, the ACCC expressed that the Court had previously found that Google LLC and Google Australia Pty Ltd were in breach of the Australian Consumer Law by representing to Android users that the setting titled 'Location History' was the only Google account setting that affected whether Google collected, kept, and used personal location data, where in fact, another Google account setting titled 'Web & App Activity' also enabled Google to collect the same. In this regard, the ACCC noted that Google had retained the location data collected through the 'Web & App Activity' setting which could be used to target ads to some consumers, even if those consumers had disbaled the 'Location History' setting. 

Moreover, the ACCC emphasised that according to its best estimate and based on available data, the users of 1.3 million Google accounts in Australia may have viewed the screen found by the Court to have breached the Australian Consumer Law.

Findings of the Court

Notably, the ACCC stated that the Court found Google LLC's aforementioned conduct amounted to a breach of Australian Consumer Law. 

Outcomes 

Ultimately, the ACCC noted that the Court fined Google $60 million for its breach of Australian Consumer Law. Additionally, the ACCC highlighted that the Court also made orders requiring Google to ensure its policies include a commitment to compliance and to train staff about the Australian Consumer Law, as well as to pay a contribution to the ACCC's costs.

You can read the press release here