In a landmark settlement, Google has agreed to pay $93 million to the California Department of Justice, effectively putting to rest allegations that the tech behemoth violated consumer protection laws through its location-privacy practices. The settlement resolves the state’s claim that Google was unlawfully "collecting, storing, and using their location data" for consumer advertising purposes, all without obtaining informed consent from its users. This case is not the first of its kind, as Google had previously settled similar lawsuits in Arizona and Washington last year, accused of the same illicit tracking of consumers.
This settlement, although a mere drop in the ocean for Google’s deep pockets, carries significant weight due to the company’s heavy reliance on advertising revenue, with location-based advertising being a vital component of its platform. Despite the settlement, the California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, is pushing Google to increase transparency around location tracking, demanding the company provide users with comprehensive information about the location data it collects. Furthermore, the company is now required to issue disclaimers to users, alerting them that their location information may be utilized for ad personalization.
Google Settles with California AG Over Location-Privacy Violations
Google has agreed to pay an impressive $93 million in a settlement with California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The settlement puts to rest allegations that the tech behemoth violated California’s consumer protection laws with its location-privacy practices.
Privacy Breach Allegations
The California Department of Justice accused Google of "collecting, storing, and using their location data" for consumer advertising purposes without obtaining informed consent. Surprisingly, the complaint alleges that Google continued to track consumer location data even when users had deactivated the "location history" feature. This settlement follows similar lawsuits that Google settled in Arizona and Washington last year for illicit tracking of consumers.
More Than Just Monetary Compensation
Beyond the hefty $93 million payout, Google has also committed to "deter future misconduct." Although the fine will barely dent Google’s robust coffers, the settlement is significant. A considerable portion of Google’s revenue stems from advertising, and location-based advertising forms a crucial aspect of its advertising platform.
A Push for Greater Transparency
The settlement also includes a demand from the California AG for Google to increase transparency about its location tracking. Google must provide users with comprehensive information about the location data it collects. Moreover, the company needs to warn users that their location data may be utilized for ad customization. As of now, Google has yet to comment on this settlement.
This settlement underscores the growing need for tech giants like Google to be more transparent and respectful of user data. The demand for informed consent and detailed information about data collection practices should not be an afterthought, but a fundamental aspect of any tech platform. While $93 million may not significantly impact Google’s finances, the reputational implications and potential for future lawsuits may prompt a reconsideration of how user data is leveraged, particularly for advertising purposes.