Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is settling a long dispute that it has been tracking users on its popular search engine.
According to a Reuters report, Google will pay nearly $400 million for allegedly tracking the location of users.
Following a series of lawsuits, brought on by 40 state attorneys general from various states, charging that Google used “deceptive and unfair” tactics to mislead users into surrendering valuable location data, the tech giant caved.
The coalition of attorneys general included AGs from Washington state, Indiana, Arizona, Texas and the District of Columbia.
The Lawsuit Against Google
The attorneys general complained that Google services on both Android devices and iPhones stored Google users’ location data even if they used a privacy setting that was supposed to block locations.
“These practices harm consumers who wish to protect their sensitive location information from disclosure to Google and Google’s advertising customers, by making it difficult for consumers to deny Google access to their location information, regardless of whether that information is needed to provide services to the consumer,” the attorneys general wrote in court filings.
States like Oregon and Nebraska were instrumental in the investigation and settlement progress, proving to be too much for Google’s legal defense.
In the settlement, Google has agreed to be more transparent with consumers about its location tracking, giving users an expectation of what information about their location is being tracked, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office said.
“When consumers make the decision to not share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that a company will no longer track their every move,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement. “This settlement makes it clear that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and abide by state and federal privacy laws.”
Pushback from Google
Despite settling the lawsuit, Google is saying it is innocent of any wrongdoing.
“The Attorneys General are bringing a case based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings,” said Google spokesperson José Castañeda in a statement. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data. We will vigorously defend ourselves and set the record straight.”