Allegations that Google of Alphabet Inc. cheated users with unclear smartphone location-tracking settings must be weighed by a jury, an Arizona judge ruled Tuesday, refusing to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the state’s attorney general.
Google had sought summary proceedings to get the case against it dropped at an early stage. It had argued that the state had failed to demonstrate that its consumer fraud law could apply and noted that the company’s disclosures about privacy settings have been clarified since the case was filed nearly two years ago.
Google and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The decision comes a day after attorneys general in Washington state, Indiana, Texas and the District of Columbia sued Google on similar grounds to the Arizona case.
The Arizona action centers around the fact that users of smartphones running Google’s Android operating system who turned off a Location History feature to restrict tracking still had their location saved to their Google account through another setting, Web App and Activity.
Prosecutors and Google have discussed whether users realized they had to turn off both settings to prevent Google from tracking their physical movements.
Prosecutors in Arizona had also requested an early ruling in their favor, but the judge ruled last year that many factual issues needed to be resolved and rejected his offer.
According to Judge Timothy Thomason’s latest ruling, the state may go ahead with allegations that Google may have engaged in deceptive practices by not disclosing its location-finding capabilities to phone buyers and app users. But he rejected a third argument that Google is misleading users by using location data to help sell ads.
The Federal Court in Australia ruled in a similar case last April that Google had misled consumers. Sanctions have yet to be determined.
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