Google: Google will pay nearly $400 million to settle a state investigation of location tracking

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office said Monday that Alphabet’s Google will pay $391.5 million to settle allegations in 40 states that the search and advertising giant illegally tracked users’ locations.

The investigation and settlement, led by Oregon and Nebraska, is a sign of mounting legal troubles for the tech giant by state attorneys general who have aggressively targeted the company’s user tracking practices in recent months.

In addition to paying, Google should be more transparent with consumers about when location tracking occurs and give users detailed information about location tracking data on a special webpage, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office said.

“When consumers make the decision not to share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that the company will no longer track their every move,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement. “This settlement demonstrates that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and comply with federal and state privacy laws.”

Arizona filed a similar case against Google and closed it for $85 million in October 2022.

Texas, Indiana, the state of Washington and the District of Columbia sued Google in January over what it called deceptive site-tracking practices that violate users’ privacy.

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“In line with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have resolved this investigation that was based on legacy product policies that we changed years ago,” said Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda.

Google generated $111 billion in advertising revenue in the first half of this year, more than any other online advertising vendor. Consumer positioning is key to helping the advertiser bypass the digital clutter to make the advertisement more relevant and grab the consumer’s attention.

(Writing by Diane Bartz and Alexandra Alper; Editing by Anna Driver and Aurora Ellis)

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