Google agrees $400m settlement in US location-tracking investigation
Google is to pay $391.5 million in a settlement following accusations that the search engine giant illegally tracked users’ locations in 40 US states, the Michigan attorney general’s office said on Monday.
The settlement also requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about when it’s using location tracking, and provide users with detailed information about location-tracking data on a special web page, the Iowa attorney general’s office said.
“When consumers make the decision to not share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that a company will no longer track their every move,” Tom Miller, an Iowa Attorney General, said in a statement.
“This settlement makes it clear that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and abide by state and federal privacy laws.”
Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said: “Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”
The web browser firm also wrote in a blog post that it plans to make “updates in the coming months to provide even greater controls and transparency over location data”.
Such changes include making deleting location data easier for current users, and new users will have auto-delete controls which will force Google to delete information once it expires at a certain age.
The probe began in 2018 following a report that Google recorded location data despite users instructing it not to. It then went on to find that Google misled consumers about location-tracking practices ever since 2014, violating state consumer protection laws.
In a similar case last month, Google paid an $85m case to the state of Arizona.
Indiana, Texas, Washington State, and the District of Columbia also sued in January 2022 for invading users privacy through “deceptive location-tracking.”
In the first half of this year, Google made $111 billion in revenue from advertising, more than any other online ad seller. Location-tracking is commonly used in order for advertisers to target relevant consumers’ attention.
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