Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies during a remote video hearing held by subcommittees of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee on the “Role of Social Media in Promoting Extremism and Disinformation” in Washington on 25 of March 2021.
US House Energy and Commerce Committee | Brochures | via Reuters
Google has agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states over the use of location tracking, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced Monday.
Even when users thought they had turned off location tracking in their account settings, Google continued to collect information about their whereabouts, the Oregon AG’s office said. The agreement requires Google to be more transparent with users and provide clearer information about location tracking starting in 2023.
Rosenblum led the deal along with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. According to the statement, it is the largest consumer privacy settlement ever led by a group of attorneys general.
“In line with the improvements we’ve made in recent years, we’ve resolved this investigation that was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman José Castañeda said in a statement.
A 2018 report by the Associated Press revealed the basis of the investigation.
“For years, Google has prioritized profit over the privacy of its users,” Rosenblum said in the statement. “They were cunning 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 settled a similar lawsuit with Arizona for $85 million last month, and the company faces additional location tracking lawsuits in Washington, DC, Indiana, Texas and Washington state. The four AGs claim that Google was using the location data for its advertising business. The lawsuits ask the court to require Google to download the algorithms created with the allegedly illicit earnings, along with monetary benefits.
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