Google has agreed to a record $391.5 million settlement with 40 states for allegedly misleading consumers about its location-based practices, a coalition of attorneys general announced Monday.
Attorneys general have described it as the largest multi-state privacy settlement in US history.
The coalition, which included attorneys general from New York, Kentucky and Oregon, claimed that Google had misled users about location tracking in various ways since 2014. This included confusion around “the scope of the parameter location history” and “the extent to which consumers who use Google products and services may limit Google location tracking by adjusting their account and device settings,” according to a statement from the attorney general’s office. of Pennsylvania and Governor-elect Josh Shapiro.
As part of the settlement, Google must be more transparent, including displaying additional information each time a location-related setting is turned on or off, making key location tracking policies clearly visible, and giving users further details on the type of location data collected. and its use. Google will also now face limits on the use and storage of certain location information.
“In line with the improvements we’ve made over the past few years, we’ve resolved this investigation that was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesperson José Castañeda said. CNNBusiness.
Attorneys general opened an investigation into Google after a 2018 Associated Press report that the company “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to”. In a statement at the time, Google said it provided “clear descriptions of these tools and robust controls so people can turn them on or off and delete their histories at any time.”
The search engine faced a similar lawsuit in January when four attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Texas, Indiana and Washington state claimed it used “dark patterns and deceptive practices to track users’ physical location, even when those users have made efforts to prevent Google from doing so.
Location data such as that collected by Google may be used to target advertising and create profiles about Internet users. Google and other big tech companies have faced renewed scrutiny for their handling of location data following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. After facing pressure from lawmakers over how this data could be used to track abortion seekers, Google said it would start deleting users’ location history for clinic visits. abortion and fertility clinics, among other destinations.