Google to Resolve User Location Tracking Lawsuits

Google to Resolve User Location Tracking Lawsuits

In order to resolve two lawsuits launched by Indiana and Washington, D.C. about its “deceptive” location monitoring methods, Google has agreed to pay a total of $29.5 million.

Google was sued by the states of Indiana and D.C. on allegations that it tracked users’ whereabouts without their express consent. Google was ordered to pay $20 million to Indiana and $9.5 million to D.C.

The cases were brought about by discoveries in 2018 that the internet provider was still tracking users’ whereabouts on Android and iOS by using a feature called Web & App Activity even when Location History settings were off.

Dark patterns, which are design decisions meant to trick users into taking activities that violate their privacy and overshare information without their knowledge or consent, were also alleged to be utilized by Google.

“Given the vast level of tracking and surveillance that technology companies can embed into their widely used products, it is only fair that consumers be informed of how important user data, including information about their every move, is gathered, tracked, and utilized by these companies. Significantly, this resolution also provides users with the ability and choice to opt of being tracked, as well as restrict the manner in which user information may be shared with third parties,” said Attorney General Karl A. Racine

Under the terms of the settlement, Google will be required to:

  • Pay a $9,500,000 penalty to the District.
  • Issue notifications to users who currently have certain location settings enabled.
  • Clearly inform users of data collection when they enable location-related Google account settings
  • Maintain a webpage that discloses Google’s policies and practices concerning location data.
  • Improve users’ ability to identify location-related controls.
  • Limit sharing of users’ data and retention of data.
  • Prepare annual compliance reports.
Sources
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May 21st, 2024

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