Google Agrees to $93 mn Settlement in California Over Deceptive Location Data Practices

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a significant settlement with Google amounting to $93 million, resolving allegations of deceptive location data management options. The settlement comes after a lawsuit accusing Google of violating California consumer protection laws related to location-privacy practices.
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A multi-year investigation conducted by the California Department of Justice found that Google had been misleading users by collecting, storing, and utilizing their location data for consumer profiling and targeted advertising without obtaining informed consent.

In a late-night statement on Thursday, Bonta stated, “Our investigation revealed that Google was telling its users one thing—that it would no longer track their location once they opted out—but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its own commercial gain.”

Given that Google primarily generates revenue from advertising, location-based advertising plays a crucial role in its advertising platform. Advertisers seek the ability to target users based on their geographical locations. Google also uses location data to create behavioral profiles of users, aiding in determining the ads to serve to individual users.

Bonta alleged that Google deceived users through various means regarding the collection, storage, and use of their location data. One instance cited was Google falsely assuring users that turning off the “Location History” setting would prevent the storage of their location data. However, according to the complaint, even with this setting turned off, Google continued to collect and store users’ location data through other sources.

As part of the settlement, Google will pay $93 million to the state and adhere to stringent injunctive terms aimed at preventing future misconduct and safeguarding the privacy interests of California users. This settlement marks a significant step towards holding tech companies accountable for privacy violations and misleading practices in the state.

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