California and Google Reach $93 Million Settlement Over Location Privacy Practices

Tech giant Google has resolved a $93 million settlement with the state of California, marking another chapter in the ongoing saga of location-privacy concerns. This development comes in the wake of a prior $391.5 million settlement with 40 U.S. states, a deal reached in November 2022, which aimed to address an extensive investigation into Google’s practices regarding user location tracking.

The impetus for this extensive investigation can be traced back to a 2018 exposé published by the Associated Press. The investigative report revealed that Google was persistently tracking individuals’ location data, even when users had explicitly opted out of such tracking by disabling a feature referred to by the company as “location history.”

Attorney General Rob Bonta, in a statement, voiced his concerns about the findings, stating, “Our investigation uncovered a troubling pattern of Google misleading its users. They claimed that they would cease tracking users’ locations once they opted out, but our findings indicated the contrary — Google continued to monitor users’ movements for its own commercial interests. This behavior is unacceptable, and today’s settlement holds Google accountable for these actions.”

As part of the settlement agreement, it’s worth noting that Google did not admit any wrongdoing. However, the company did commit to a series of significant restrictions. These measures include a pledge to enhance transparency regarding location tracking, disclose to users the potential use of their location data for personalized advertising, and provide users with more comprehensive information when enabling location-related account settings.

In response to the settlement, Google issued a statement reiterating its commitment to improving its practices. The statement read, “In alignment with the progress we’ve made in recent years, we have resolved this matter, which was primarily based on outdated product policies that we updated years ago.”

This resolution marks a significant step in addressing concerns over privacy and user data protection, emphasizing the importance of transparency and accountability in the tech industry.

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