Google to Pay $93 Million in Settlement Over Privacy Violations
Google has reached a settlement with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, agreeing to pay $93 million to resolve allegations that the company violated consumer protection laws by improperly using location data for advertising purposes without informed consent.
The settlement comes after the California Department of Justice accused Google of collecting and storing location data even when users had turned off the “location history” feature. This is not the first time Google has faced legal action for illegally tracking consumers, having settled similar lawsuits in Arizona and Washington last year.
What is the Lawsuit All About?
The lawsuit centers on the allegation by the California attorney general that Google did not provide adequate information to its users regarding how its services collect location data. The incident occurred in 2018 when Google was accused of collecting user location data from Android and iPhone users, even after they had opted out. This collection happened whether the users were actively using Google Maps or not.
How to Protect Your Location Data
If you’re concerned about your privacy and want to protect your location data, there are several measures you can take. You can start by regularly checking your location settings and making sure that any apps which collect your location data are turned off. You can also use privacy-centric browsers and search engines like Firefox or DuckDuckGo to minimize location data collection. Additionally, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your online activity and make it more difficult for hackers to intercept your data.
Lessons Learned from the Incident
In addition to the monetary penalty, Google has also committed to preventing future misconduct. While the $93 million may not significantly impact Google’s finances, it is a significant development considering the company’s heavy reliance on location-based advertising for revenue generation.
“We have settled this matter, as it was based on outdated policies that we changed years ago,” said Google spokesperson José Castañeda.
Moving forward, the California Attorney General is urging Google to be more transparent about its location tracking practices, requiring the company to provide detailed information to users about the data it collects. Additionally, Google must provide disclaimers to users regarding the potential use of their location information for personalized advertising.