Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies during a remote video hearing held by subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on “Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation” in Washington, March 25, 2021.
U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee | Handout | via Reuters
Even when users thought they’d turned off location tracking in their account settings, Google continued to collect information regarding their whereabouts, Oregon’s AG office said. The settlement requires Google to be more transparent with users and provide clearer location tracking disclosures beginning in 2023.
Rosenblum led the settlement along with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. It’s the largest consumer privacy settlement ever led by a group of attorneys general, according to the release.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” said Google spokesperson José Castañeda in a statement.
A 2018 report from the Associated Press revealed the basis of the investigation.
“For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy,” Rosenblum said in the release. “They have been crafty and deceptive. Consumers thought they had turned off their location tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers.”
Google settled a similar lawsuit with Arizona for $85 million last month, and the company faces additional location tracking lawsuits in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Texas and Washington state. The four AGs allege Google was using the location data for its ad business. The lawsuits ask the court to require Google to offload any algorithms created with the allegedly ill-gotten gains, alongside monetary profits.