Google Agrees To Pay 40 U.S. States $391.5 Mln In Location-tracking Settlement

Google agreed to pay a total of $391.5 million to 40 U.S. states to settle an investigation into the company's location tracking practices. The settlement outlines that Google misled its users into thinking they had turned off location tracking even as the company continued to collect their location information.

In addition to settlement, as part of the negotiations with the attorneys generals, Google has agreed to significantly improve its location tracking disclosures and user controls starting in 2023.

The settlement, which was led by Oregon AG Rosenblum and Nebraska AG Doug Peterson, is the largest attorney general-led consumer privacy settlement ever. Oregon will receive $14.80 million, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement on Monday.

The attorneys general found that Google violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location tracking practices since at least 2014. Specifically, Google confused its users about the extent to which they could limit Google's location tracking by adjusting their account and device settings.

Location data is a key part of Google's digital advertising business. Google uses the personal and behavioral data it collects to build detailed user profiles and target ads.

In fact, location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects. Even a limited amount of location data can expose a person's identity and routines and can be used to infer personal details.

In addition to Oregon and Nebraska, the other states assisting in the investigation include: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

The settlement is also joined by Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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