Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement due to a lawsuit filed in 40 US states over location tracking issues. The company was accused of misleading users into thinking they had turned off location tracking and then continued to collect user location information.
As part of the agreement, Google undertakes to significantly strengthen location tracking disclosures and user controls beginning in 2023.
For years, Google has put profits ahead of user privacy. Consumers thought they turned off Google’s location tracking feature, but the company secretly kept track of users’ movements and used that information for advertisers.
Until comprehensive privacy laws are in place, businesses will continue to collect vast amounts of personal data for marketing purposes with little control.
Google’s main revenue comes from advertising. That’s why they use personal and behavioural data by collecting information, such as location tracking, to create detailed user profiles. After creating a user profile for every individual who uses Google’s services, it delivers targeted ads.
The settlement, led by Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, is the largest consumer privacy settlement in US history.
In Associated Press report from 2018 started the probe article that revealed how Google “tracks your movements.” At the time, the AP said the problem affected more than two billion devices running Google’s Android OS and millions of iPhones that use Google Maps and Google Search.
Still, Google has not admitted to breaking any laws. A Google spokesperson told TheRegister that the investigation was conducted under an “outdated product policy that changed several years ago.”
Google also posted a blog with information to help users manage their location.