Location tracking continues to face scrutiny after Google’s latest data privacy settlement

November 16, 2022

After a landmark privacy settlement between Google and dozens of states, some say location-tracking will continue facing scrutiny — and maybe more legal battles — as the industry comes increasingly under the microscope.

On Monday, Google and 40 state attorneys general announced a $392 million agreement — the tech giant’s largest legal payout to date — to various states while also requiring additional changes to its data-collection practices disclosures. The charges, led by Oregon and Nebraska, are based on alleged activity from 2014 through 2020 and include charges of recording users’ movements even when they tell apps not to. According to the complaint, Google misled consumers and broke consumer protection laws while profiting from the data.

Next year, Google will be required to add more disclosures about how users’ locations are being tracked and how it’s being used. Information that Google will be required to share includes the types of information collected, sources of the information, whether it’s a precise location, the extent to which users can prevent data from being a factor in personalized ads, and how to delete data if they want to.

In a statement about the settlement, Google said it already made changes to its platforms and that the case was based on “outdated product policies.” However, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said the settlement sends a “clear message that we will hold companies accountable.” And in Oregon, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said data privacy remains a “top priority” for the state and that a task force will introduce a new bill in the 2023 legislative session to give consumers more control over their data.

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