Google has come to an agreement to pay the largest antitrust settlement in US history. The company will pay $391.5 million to 40 US states over concerns over its location tracking. It is another unwanted record for Google, which already has the highest regulatory fine in the European Union.
In this instance, the search giant is accused of misleading users into thinking their location tracking was off. However, while the tracking was apparently off Google kept tracking location information without users knowing.
Alongside the fine, Google will also improve location tracking details and how it discloses information. These changes will include new control and will arrive in 2023. The company has also published a blog post providing information on managing location tracking.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says in a statement:
“For years Google has prioritized profit over their users' privacy. 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.
Until we have comprehensive privacy laws, companies will continue to compile large amounts of our personal data for marketing purposes with few controls.”
Location, Location, Location
Google makes most of its money by advertising and needs telemetry from users that focus on how they behave when using their devices and Google products. This data includes location tracking to help create a usage profile. With this information, Google targets ads specific to the user.
In other words, location is important to Google and in an ideal situation the company would prefer users not turn off location tracking.
Despite the settlement, Google insists it has not broken any laws. In fact, the company says the investigation – which began in 2018 – was based on “outdated product policies that we changed years ago”.
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