Google has agreed to a 93 million settlement with the State of California to put an end to allegations that it collected consumers’ data without their consent.
In a statement, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that Google has resolved to take adequate measures to prevent such instances in the future.
The settlement comes after a lengthy investigation by the California Department of Justice. It concluded that Google had been “deceiving users by collecting, storing, and using their location data for consumer profiling and advertising purposes without informed consent.”
The statement also signifies that Google accepted its malpractices and expressed its commitment to make necessary changes to prevent such issues.
Defending the company’s actions, a Google spokesperson stated that they have made consistent improvements in recent years and settled the matter. The issue stemmed from outdated product policies that have already been changed. The spokesperson also referred to a blog post in 2022, where Google had introduced transparency tools like auto-delete controls and incognito mode on Google Maps.
Google Allegedly Lacked Transparency In Handling Location Data
Google’s business model includes location-based advertising, which allows businesses to customize their content to users based on their demographics. Google also incorporates location data into its “behavioral profile” of its users for targeted advertising.
However, the California Attorney General alleged Google for not being transparent with their practices involving the collection and storage of location data.
For instance, the complaint alleged that Google continued to collect and store location data even when users turned off their “location history”.
Google has agreed to offer more transparency in its location tracking practices as a part of the agreement. Thus, it would inform the users that their location data could be used for targeted advertisements. Currently, the proposed order is pending approval at the court.
Google Entangled In Other Lawsuits In The US
This settlement comes at a time when the big tech company has already come under scrutiny for its data collection practices. Back in January, the Biden administration filed a lawsuit arguing that the ad-tech business of Google should be split up.
It accused Google of intentionally stifling competition in the search engine market and that Google was enjoying an illegal monopoly that was harming mobile and computer users in the country.
John Schmidtlein, Google’s attorney, countered these allegations, pointing out that Apple’s decision to make Google the default search engine in its Safari browser demonstrates the superiority of their search engine. Naturally, it would be the preferred choice for customers.
In recent months, Google has also been entangled in antitrust scrutiny issues regarding its Play Store. It was only last week that it reached a preliminary agreement with multiple U.S. states to settle an antitrust lawsuit.
This lawsuit alleged Google for inflating the prices of paid apps and in-app purchases in the Android app market.