Google will pay nearly $400 million to settle a US location tracking investigation

WASHINGTON, November 14 (Reuters) – Google Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O) It will pay $391.5 million to settle allegations in 40 states that the search and advertising giant illegally tracked users’ locations, the Michigan attorney general’s office said Monday.

The investigation and settlement, led by Oregon and Nebraska, is a sign of mounting legal troubles for the tech giant from state attorneys general who have aggressively targeted the company’s user tracking practices in recent months.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office said that in addition to paying, Google should be more transparent with consumers about when location tracking occurs and give users detailed information about location tracking data on a special web page.

“When consumers make the decision not to share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that the company will no longer track their every move,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement. “This settlement demonstrates that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and comply with federal and state privacy laws.”

“In line with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on legacy product policies that we changed years ago,” said Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda.

Google said In a blog post On Monday it will “make updates in the coming months to provide greater controls and transparency over location data.”

These changes include making it easier to delete location data. New users will have automatic deletion controls that allow them to request that certain information be deleted from Google when you reach a certain age.

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State attorneys opened an investigation in 2018 after a report that Google recorded location data even when users ordered it not to. The investigation found that Google had misled consumers about location-tracking practices since at least 2014, in violation of state consumer protection laws.

Arizona filed a similar case against Google and closed it for $85 million in October 2022.

Texas, Indiana, the state of Washington and the District of Columbia sued Google in January over what it called deceptive site-tracking practices that violate users’ privacy.

Google made $111 billion in advertising revenue in the first half of this year, more than any other online advertising vendor. Consumer positioning is key to helping the advertiser bypass the digital clutter to make the advertisement more relevant and grab the consumer’s attention.

Writing by Diane Bartz and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Anna Driver and Aurora Ellis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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