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Google settles California lawsuit over its location-privacy practices

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Google has reached a settlement of $93 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by the state of California in the United States. This legal action was initiated due to allegations that Google’s practices related to location privacy were misleading to consumers and violated laws protecting consumer interests.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta stated, “Our investigation uncovered that Google was conveying one message to its users, assuring them that their location would no longer be tracked once they opted out. However, in reality, Company continued to monitor user movements for its own financial gain.”

The lawsuit was prompted by revelations that Company persisted in tracking user locations, despite its claims that such data would not be stored if users disabled the “Location History” setting. The complaint lodged by California asserted that collected location information through alternative means and misled users regarding their ability to opt out of receiving personalized advertisements based on their location.

With Google generating revenue exceeding $220 billion solely from advertising in 2022, this settlement represents the most recent in a series of financial agreements reached by the company, which is headquartered in Mountain View, California, to resolve multiple lawsuits filed by various U.S. states.

Google Agrees to $93 Million Settlement in California’s Location-Privacy Lawsuit

In November of the previous year, Google agreed to pay $391.5 million to settle similar complaints from 40 U.S. states. Subsequently, in January 2023, it reached an agreement to pay a combined sum of $29.5 million to settle two separate lawsuits filed by Indiana and Washington, D.C.

Later in May 2023, Google settled with the state of Washington for $39.9 million for identical reasons. Currently, the company is facing a location tracking lawsuit in the state of Texas.

Although Google has not admitted to any wrongdoing, it has contended that these issues stem from “outdated product policies that we changed years ago.” Additionally, Google has committed to providing users with enhanced controls and transparency regarding their location data.

This development occurred two weeks after the Austrian privacy non-profit organization NOYB (abbreviated for None of Your Business) filed three complaints against Fitbit, a company owned by Google.

The complaints pertained to Fitbit’s practice of requiring new app users to consent to the transfer of sensitive data outside the European Union, potentially lacking the same level of protection as within the EU. NOYB emphasized that users were not given an option to withdraw their consent in accordance with legal requirements; instead, they were required to delete their accounts entirely to halt the unlawful data processing.