In a recent agreement with California, Google has committed to a $93 million settlement. This decision comes after allegations against the tech behemoth for misusing location data without obtaining informed permission, which goes against the consumer protection regulations in California.
After an extensive multi-year inquiry conducted by the California Department of Justice, it emerged that Google might have misled its users. The tech company allegedly collected, stored, and used their location data for advertising and profiling without obtaining their approval, stated California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a press statement.
Bonta shared, “Despite Google assuring users that they would not be tracked once they disabled the location feature, our investigation uncovered the contrary. Google continued monitoring its users’ whereabouts for its business benefits. This breach of trust is unacceptable, and today’s settlement is our way of ensuring Google takes responsibility.”
As of now, Google’s representative hasn’t provided any comments on this matter.
This isn’t the first time Google has faced such allegations. Last year, they settled for a massive $391.5 million with 40 different states due to similar concerns over their location tracking activities.
A significant portion of Google’s earnings stems from location-focused advertising. Advertisers highly value the ability to target users based on their current location. Consequently, Google leverages this data to craft behavioral profiles, aiming to optimize ad targeting.
In a lawsuit, Bonta pointed out that Google might have provided misleading information to its users. He argued that users were under the impression that disabling the “location history” feature on their browsers would stop Google from collecting their location data. Contrary to this, Google apparently continued to gather this data. Moreover, it’s alleged that Google wrongly informed users that they could opt out of location-centric ads.
As a part of the agreement, Google will now have to be clearer about its location-tracking processes. They must also offer users detailed insights when they choose to activate location settings and launch a more informative “location technologies” webpage. This page will be designed to educate users about the nuances of location data.
Furthermore, Google will be obliged to notify its users if their location history data is being used to construct advertising profiles.