California settles with Google over location privacy practices for USD 93 million

The settlement resolved allegations as part of the lawsuit that Google’s location-privacy practices violated California consumer protection laws.

Published: 15th September 2023 11:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2023 11:09 AM   |  A+A-

The Google logo is seen at the Vivatech show in Paris.(File | AP)

By Associated Press

OAKLAND: Search giant Google agreed to a USD 93 million settlement with the state of California on Thursday over its location-privacy practices.

The settlement follows a USD 391.5 million settlement with 40 states, reached in November 2022, to resolve an investigation into how the company tracked users’ locations.

The states’ investigation was sparked by a 2018 Associated Press story, which found that Google continued to track people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking by disabling a feature the company called “location history.”

“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. That’s unacceptable, and we’re holding Google accountable with today’s settlement,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.

Google generates the majority of its revenue from advertising, and location-based advertising (or geo-targeted advertising) is a critical feature of Google’s advertising platform because advertisers want the ability to market to users based on their geographical locations.

Google also uses their location data to build behavioural profiles of users to help determine which ads to serve users, said the Attorney General.

As part of the settlement, in which Google admitted no wrongdoing, the company also agreed to a number of restrictions, including providing more transparency about location tracking, disclosing to users that their location information may be used for ad personalization, and showing additional information to users when enabling location-related account settings.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google said in a statement.

(With inputs from IANS)

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