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Google agrees to pay largest privacy settlement in U.S. history for tracking location data

Google Lawsuit

Google has agreed to pay $391.5 million settlement to 40 US states over a location tracking dispute. The big tech company misled its users into believing that they have turned location tracking off. However, Google still continued to collect the users' location information.

As part of the settlement (PDF), Google has also agreed to improve its location tracking disclosures and user controls significantly starting 2023.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement:

“For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy.They have been crafty and deceptive. Consumers thought they had turned off their location tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers.

Until we have comprehensive privacy laws, companies will continue to compile large amounts of our personal data for marketing purposes with few controls.”

Google's major revenue comes from advertising. This is why it uses personal and behavioral data collected via location tracking and other sources to create a detailed user profile. After a user profile is built for every individual that uses any of Google's services, the company serves them with targeted ads.

The settlement was led by Oregon AG Rosenblum and Nebraska AG Doug Peterson, and is the largest consumer privacy settlement in US history.

The DoJ investigation was prompted by a 2018 article by the Associated Press (AP) that revealed how Google "tracks your movements". At that time, the AP said that this issue impacted more than 2 billion devices running on Google's Android OS and hundreds of millions of iPhones that use Google Maps or Google Search.

Google did not admit to violation of any laws. A Google spokesperson told The Register that the investigation was based on "outdated product policies that we changed years ago".

Google also posted a blog that provides more information to users to help manage their location data.

Source: The Register

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