Google Agrees to More Location-Tracking Settlements, This Time in DC, Indiana
It’s been a busy week for Google’s lawyers. The company agreed(Opens in a new window) to pay out $9.5 million in a settlement with the District of Columbia for “deceiving and manipulating” consumers to gain access to their location data, and rubber-stamped a $20 million payout to Indiana to settle a lawsuit over the tech giant’s “deceptive” location -tracking practices.
The DC case alleged that Google was “deceiving and manipulating” consumers to gain access to their location data, according to DC Attorney General Karl Racine. Google made it “nearly impossible” for users to stop their location from being tracked, Racine tweeted(Opens in a new window).
Under the settlement, Google agreed to refrain from sharing users’ precise location with third-party advertisers without express affirmative consent, and delete location information collected from a user within 30 days of collection. The company also agreed to issue consumers with notifications on how to delete collected data, limit how long Google keeps their data, and make it easier for users to opt-out of being tracked.
The settlement (PDF(Opens in a new window)) came after an investigation by Racine’s office that found Google used “dark pattern” practices to get consumers to enable their location by repeatedly prompting users to turn their location on in certain apps and claiming that the apps in question would not function properly without location tracking turned on.
In Indiana, meanwhile, Attorney General Todd Rokita says(Opens in a new window) the payout is “a manifestation” of Indiana’s “intensive commitment to protect Hoosiers from Big Tech’s intrusive schemes,” adding, “we will continue to hold these companies accountable for their improper manipulation of consumers.”
The lawsuit argues(Opens in a new window) that Google used location data collected from Indiana consumers to build detailed user profiles and target ads. The company deceived and misled users about its practices since “at least” 2014, it said.
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Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
These settlements come several weeks after a similar deal was reached with 40 states for $392 million. That closed out a case that began after an August 2018 AP report(Opens in a new window) found that on both Android phones and iPhones, pausing Google’s “Location History” feature instead allowed continued location tracking.
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