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Google has to pay $391.5 million to 40 states in the US

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Google has settled to pay $391.5 million to 40 states in the US, reports Engadget. This is the largest-ever US consumer privacy settlement, by the way. These charges were brought forth by 40 attorneys general.

Google is set to pay $391.5 billion to 40 states in the US following a court case

What’s going on? Well, Google was accused of misleading users into believing they had turned off location tracking in their settings. Despite that, Google continued to collect information about their movements.

Now, Google did settle to pay the fine, but it also agreed to “significantly improve” its location tracking disclosures and user controls. The company said that will happen starting next year.

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“For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy”, Oregon attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said. She led the case, by the way, along with Nebraska’s Attorney General, Doug Peterson.

She also added: “They have been crafty and deceptive. Consumers thought they had turned off their location tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers”.

This investigation started way back in 2018

This investigation started way back in 2018, after Associated Press released a report regarding Google’s location tracking. That report indicated that turning off Location History didn’t really stop Google from tracking users’ whereabouts.

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Attorney Generals concluded that Google violated state consumer protection laws since 2014, at the very least. They said that the company “confused its users about the extent to which they could limit Google’s location tracking by adjusting their account and device settings”.

So, how will Google improve its practice? Based on the press release from the Oregon Attorney General’s office, Google agreed to change things in three different ways. First, it will show additional information whenever users change a location-related setting from ‘on’ to ‘off’, or vice versa.

It will make key information about location tracking unavoidable for users. It will be front and center. And third, Google will give users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects, and how it’s used at an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage.

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