Alphabet-owned Google has agreed to pay a whopping $391.5 million to settle a complaint by 40 states that the tech giant illegally tracked the locations of users, a report by news agency Reuters said quoting the Michigan attorney general’s office. The lawsuit, which includes Oregon, one of the people said, is a sign of mounting legal headaches for the tech company from state attorneys general who have aggressively targeted the firm’s user tracking practices of late.
Last month, Google paid $85 million to the state of Arizona to settle the claims that the tech giant illegally tracked the location of Android users. The new settlement with Google over its location tracking practices, led by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Nebraska AG Doug Peterson, is the largest attorney general-led consumer privacy settlement ever.
Because of Oregon’s leadership role in the bipartisan investigation and settlement, Oregon will receive $14,800,563. “For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.
“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,” he said in a statement late on Monday.
As outlined in the settlement, Google misled its users into thinking they had turned off location tracking in their account settings, when, in fact, Google continued to collect their location information.
In addition to the multimillion-dollar settlement, as part of the negotiations with the AGs, Google has agreed to significantly improve its location tracking disclosures and user controls starting in 2023. According to the Oregon Department of Justice, location data is a key part of Google’s digital advertising business. Google uses the personal and behavioural data it collects to build detailed user profiles and target ads.