Google has reportedly settled a lawsuit in California court that alleged the company was using deceptive location data practices with users. The complaint was filed on September 14, 2023, and accuses Google of using deceptive practices to track, store, and use location data of consumers for targeted advertising without consent.
The complaint was filed by California’s Attorney General Nicklas Akers. It states that Google basically tricked users into consenting to having their location data tracked 24/7 outside of the Google Maps app. This practice went on from 2014 to 2018 according to the complaint. It also notes that Google would “show users a deceptive prompt” to allow location history under the guise of enhancing the Google Maps experience. The enhancement was said to be for storing location data to improve search suggestions and recommended routes.
This prompt would pop up in the Maps app when users would launch it. And at the bottom of the prompt was a big blue button that you could tap that said “yes I’m in.” Tapping yes is what would give consent to Google to use the location data that was gathered. Only that was never mentioned to users. And it wasn’t periodically, it was all the time.
Google agrees to pay $93 million for location data lawsuit, but admits no wrongdoing
Google has agreed to pay $93 million to the state of California to settle this complaint. This also comes after it settled with 40 other states for around $391 million back in November of 2022. Of course, part of the settlement agreement is that Google doesn’t admit any faults. So the company gets to walk away with its integrity intact. Settling was probably a smart choice. Today is day three of Google’s antitrust case with the DOJ.
And settling this lawsuit means it can clear its plate for the weeks ahead in its ongoing trial. In addition to paying the $93 million, Google has agreed to show more information to users about location data tracking. This includes providing additional transparency about tracking, as well as disclosing that location data may be used for targeted ads. So, Google is still to going to track the data of Californians and use it for advertising. It just has to tell them about it now.