California’s Attorney General announced today that Google will pay $93 million to settle a privacy lawsuit alleging it violated the U.S. state’s consumer protection laws.

An investigation by the California Department of Justice found that Google had engaged in deceptive practices related to collecting, retaining, and utilizing Android users’ location data for purposes such as consumer profiling and advertising, all without obtaining their proper informed consent.

The complaint focuses on Google’s tracking of users’ locations, even when they believed they had disabled location tracking on their devices.

The issue at the center of the allegations is a discrepancy between user expectations and Google’s location-tracking practices. Android users were under the impression that turning off “Location History” in their device settings would disable location tracking entirely.

However, another account setting known as “Web & App Activity” was enabled by default, allowing Google to collect, retain, and utilize personally identifiable location data of its customers.

“Our investigation revealed that Google was telling its users one thing – that it would no longer track their location once they opted out – but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its own commercial gain,” said Attorney General Bonta.

“That’s unacceptable, and we’re holding Google accountable with today’s settlement. I want to thank my Consumer Protection Section for their work on this matter and for securing important privacy safeguards on behalf of all Californians.”

​Following today’s settlement, Google agreed to implement more user-friendly account controls while restricting the use and retention of specific location data categories.

Google will also have to be more transparent in its location data tracking and collection practices, providing users with additional information whenever location-related account settings are enabled.

The company will also have to provide more detailed information on the types of data it collects and how it uses it.

Another location tracking lawsuit settled for $391.5 million

Last November, Google agreed to pay another $391.5 million to settle a privacy lawsuit filed by a coalition of attorneys general from 40 U.S. states focusing on the same privacy violations.

In August 2022, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) imposed a $60 million fine on Google for deceiving and collecting location data from Australian Android users over nearly two years.

France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) also fined Google $170 million in January 2022 for infringing on internet users’ consent rights, making it challenging to opt out of website tracking cookies hidden behind multiple clicks.

This adds to a series of other fines Google faced throughout the last decade: $11.3 million for aggressive data collection in November 2021, €220 million for favoring its services over competitors in June 2021, $1.7 billion for anti-competitive practices in online advertising in March 2019, and $2.72 billion for manipulating search results in June 2017.


Source: bleeping computer | By: Sergiu Gatlan| September 15, 2023 |

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