Google to pay $29.5 million to settle DC, Indiana lawsuits over location tracking

Google has agreed to pay a total of $29.5 million to settle separate lawsuits with Washington, D.C., and Indiana over its location tracking practices.

Under the settlements, Google agreed to not make misrepresentations to users about an individual user’s location information in location history and web and app activity.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) said in a statement that the state reached a settlement with Google for $20 million to resolve its lawsuit over the company’s “deceptive location-tracking practices.”

“This settlement is another manifestation of our steadfast commitment to protect Hoosiers from Big Tech’s intrusive schemes,” Rokita said. “We will continue holding these companies accountable for their improper manipulation of consumers.”

Multiple states launched lawsuits against Google following an Associated Press story in 2018 revealing the extent of Google’s location tracking.

Rokita noted that his office filed its lawsuit after negotiations between Google and a coalition of state attorneys general stalled. In November, Google agreed to pay a nearly $392 million settlement to 40 states to resolve the lawsuit brought by that coalition.

Rokita said Google used location data collected from Indiana consumers to build detailed user profiles and target ads but has misled users about its practices since at least 2014.

The settlement states that the agreement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing on the part of Google.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine tweeted on Friday that his office reached a settlement with Google for $9.5 million. He said Google manipulated customers through using “dark patterns” to trick them and gain access to their location data.

He said his office sued Google originally because the company made it “nearly impossible” for users to prevent their location from being tracked. He said Google will be required to make clear to its customers how their location data is collected, stored and used.

Under the settlements, Google agreed to take a variety of steps, including issuing a pop-up notification to users with location history enabled telling them whether location information is being collected and maintaining a webpage that discloses Google’s location tracking practices and policies.

A Google spokesperson pointed to a blog post the company posted in November related to settlements over its location tracking when reached for comment.

The post states that Google has introduced greater transparency and more tools to allow users to manage their data and minimize the data the company collects.

It said Google launched auto-delete controls to allow users to delete their data on a rolling basis, which it said is a first in the industry. The company also developed “Incognito mode” on Google Maps and introduced transparency tools to let users access key location settings from their products, per the post.

The post additionally notes Google settling the lawsuit from 40 state attorneys general, which it said was based on outdated policies that were changed years ago.

“These are just some ways that we have worked to provide more choice and transparency,” the company said.

Google also said it would provide additional updates in the coming months, including simplified deletion of location data, revamped information hubs and a more detailed explanation for users when setting up their accounts.

Updated at 11:43 a.m.

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