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Google Settles Lawsuit with 40 States over Misleading Location Tracking for $391 Million

Tech giant Google has reportedly agreed to pay $391.5 million in a settlement with 40 state attorneys general over the company’s deceptive location tracking features. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said, “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.”

TechCrunch reports that Google has agreed to pay $391.5 million in a settlement with 40 state attorneys general over its location tracking practices, following an investigation that found Google had misled users into thinking they had turned off location tracking even as it continued to collect their location information.

Oregon and Washington jointly led the settlement, which is the largest attorney general-led consumer privacy settlement ever. “For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in a news release. “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.”

Google has agreed to enhance its location tracking disclosures and user controls as part of the settlement. According to the settlement, Google must provide users with more information each time they toggle a location-related account setting on or off.

Google has already addressed and fixed some of the location tracking issues described in the settlement. A spokesperson for Google told TechCrunch in an email: “Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”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 search engine behemoth has listed a number of adjustments it will make following the settlement. The company stated that it will “provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow.” Google also intends to add more disclosures to its Data & Privacy and Activity controls pages.

“Until we have comprehensive privacy laws, companies will continue to compile large amounts of our personal data for marketing purposes with few controls,” Rosenblum said in the news release.

 

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