Google Settles $39.9M Location Tracking Lawsuit

Google will pay Washington State nearly $40 million after being accused of deceptive practices in its location tracking, and agree to change certain practices that give consumers more information about location-related account settings. 

The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson in King County Superior Court, suggests Google deceptively led consumers to believe they have control of how the company collects and uses location data, but in reality they could not prevent the search engine from collecting, storing and profiting from the location data. 

Rather than joining a multi-state settlement, Ferguson independently filed its own lawsuit.

“Google denied Washington consumers the ability to choose whether the company could track their sensitive location data, deceived them about their privacy options and profited from that conduct,” Ferguson wrote in a post. “Today’s resolution holds one of the most powerful corporations accountable for its unethical and unlawful tactics.”

The AG accused Google of collecting location data even when users disabled the history setting, misleading descriptions in location settings, tracking Android devices even when location access was turned off, and repeatedly suggesting to users they consent to location tracking.

Under the consent decree, Google must become more transparent with regard to how the company uses consumer data.

It must s

how additional information to users whenever they enable a location-related account setting by describing the sources, purposes and retention of relevant location data; ensure that users see information about location tracking; and give users detailed information on an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage about the types of location data Google collects and how it will use that data.

The state plans to use the money collected from the resolution to continue enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act and take more actions to protect data privacy for those living in Washington State.

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