Tech giant Google is set to pay a hefty $93 million in a settlement over allegations of misleading consumers regarding the tracking and storage of their location information.
This significant payout comes following a lengthy investigation into Google’s data practices.
The lawsuit that led to the settlement was initiated by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who argued that Google had deceived consumers into believing they had more control over their location data than was actually the case.
“Our investigation revealed that Google was telling its users one thing – that it would no longer track their location once they opted out – but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its own commercial gain. That’s unacceptable, and we’re holding Google accountable,” Bonta stated.
The core issue in the complaint revolved around the disparity between how Google represented its handling of user location data and how the Attorney General’s office claimed it was managed.
Google provided users with the option to disable their “location history” and explicitly stated that it would not track their movements if they selected this option.
However, the company allegedly continued to collect and store user location data through alternative means, including a user’s “web and app activity” tracker, which was reportedly enabled by default.
The Attorney General’s office accused Google of deceiving users regarding their ability to opt out of location-targeted advertisements.
Despite not admitting fault, Google has agreed to several conditions as part of the settlement.
These include increased transparency in location tracking practices, notifying users before using location information to build ad profiles for targeted advertising, and seeking approval from Google’s internal privacy working group before making substantial privacy-related changes.
Google’s spokesperson, José Castañeda, commented, “Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”
It’s worth noting that Google previously settled a similar lawsuit, brought by 40 state attorneys general, for almost $392 million in 2022, with the same allegations regarding deceptive location privacy practices.