After being accused of gathering user location data, Google will now have to pay $391.5 million to settle a lawsuit. The search engine is said to have deceived users into believing their data wasn’t being tracked when they disabled its location-tracking option.
The settlement noted that Google didn’t make it obvious that they were still tracking locations through searches, maps, and apps that need Wi-Fi connection and cell phone towers to make profits off of ads. This revealed major concerns regarding how big tech companies are using data to track users for a profit.
As a part of the settlement, Google hasn’t admitted to any wrongdoing.
The settlement was the biggest internet privacy agreement in the U.S. It had started as a four-year investigation into Google’s supposed violation of consumer protection laws in the nation.
The decision comes a month after Google stated that they would be implementing privacy changes to Android’s ad tracking practices. This would “limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers.”
Although Google has claimed that the data that is gathered is anonymized, privacy organizations believe that geolocation tracking can display the personal identity of users.
In October, Google settled another lawsuit that was similar to this, in Arizona, for $85 million.
Additionally, in 2019, Google and YouTube were sued for $170 million after the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General accused the companies of unlawfully gathering data from children. This was in regards to their video watching trends without requesting consent from their guardians.