Google LLC has been ordered by the Federal Court to pay $60 million in penalties for breaching the Australian Consumer Law. This article explains the proceedings against Google and the law around misleading and deceptive conduct to inform your business.
What is misleading and deceptive conduct?
Engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct is illegal under the Australian Consumer Law. This includes both conduct that actually misleads or deceives consumers and other businesses, or is likely to do so. Conduct which gives a false impression of something is likely to be misleading and deceptive. This includes false impressions you give the public on your website, advertising, packaging, information and statements.
The law on misleading and deceptive conduct is strict. You can be liable to pay penalties even if:
- You accidentally deceived consumers and had no intention of doing so; or
- No one was harmed or suffered any loss because of your conduct.
How did Google mislead consumers?
The Court found that Google had made misleading representations to consumers about how their personal location data was collected and used. Google represented that the ‘Location History’ setting on Android phones was the only setting that collected and used data about personal location. Instead, there was another setting titled ‘Web & App Activity’ which was turned on by default and allowed Google to use and collect personal location data. As a result, Google was ordered to pay penalties of $60 million for breaching the Australian Consumer Law.
What are the lessons from the Google proceedings?
Even the largest companies in the world can be liable for misleading and deceptive conduct. Businesses must ensure that any representations they make to consumers are true and transparent. This includes representations on websites, settings, apps, advertisements, statements and packaging.
How can my business meet its privacy obligations?
- Businesses are not allowed to engage in conduct that misleads or deceives consumers or is likely to do so. This is illegal under the Australian Consumer Law.
- You can still be liable to pay penalties even if you did not intend to mislead or deceive consumers or if no one suffered any loss from your actions.
- Businesses should ensure that their representations to the public are true and transparent.
How can Gladwin Legal help?
Gladwin Legal are experts in consumer and compliance law. We can help you:
- Understand your legal obligations under the Australian Consumer Law
- Provide corporate and commercial advice.
This article was written by Ruth Ong.