Google Agrees To $155M Location Privacy Settlements

Google late last week agreed to pay a total of $155 million to two lawsuits over location privacy -- one brought by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and a separate one brought by consumers.

If granted court approval, the deals will settle allegations that surfaced in 2018, when the Associated Press reported that Google stores some location data despite users' attempts to keep the information confidential. The report specifically said that even when the "Location History" setting is turned off, Google gathers some location data unless people turn off a separate setting -- "Web and App Activity."

After that report came out, Google revised a “help” page by adding language informing people that turning off Location History doesn't affect other location services, and that some data may still be saved.

The report sparked multiple lawsuits by attorneys general who alleged Google's settings were misleading, as well as a consumer class-action led by California resident Napoleon Patacsil.



The proposed class-action settlement, unveiled Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. calls for Google to create a $62 million fund that will be distributed to 17 schools and organizations. Proposed recipients include the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, the Internet Archive, Center for Democracy & Technology, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The settlement with California requires Google to pay $93 million, and follow privacy-related conditions in the future. Among others, the company will have to make disclosures to consumers before harnessing location-history data for ad-targeting profiles.

Google previously agreed to pay more than $500 million to other state attorneys general who brought claims over location tracking. 

A company spokesperson says the claims in all cases were based on “outdated product policies" that were changed years ago.


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