Alphabet’s Google will pay $391.5 million to settle allegations from 40 states that the search and advertising giant illegally tracked users’ locations, the Michigan attorney general’s office said Monday.
The investigation and settlement, which was led by Oregon and Nebraska, is a sign of mounting legal headaches for the tech giant from prosecutors who have aggressively targeted the company’s user-tracking practices in recent months.
In addition to the payment, Google must be more transparent with consumers about when location tracking occurs and provide users with detailed information about location tracking data on a dedicated web page, the Iowa Attorney General’s office said.
“When consumers make the decision not to share location data on their devices, they need to be confident that a company will no longer track their every move,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in a statement. “This settlement makes it clear that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and comply with state and federal privacy laws.”
Arizona filed a similar case against Google and settled it in October 2022 for $85 million.
Texas, Indiana, Washington State and the District of Columbia sued Google in January over what they called deceptive location tracking practices that violate user privacy.
Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said, “Consistent with the improvements we’ve made over the years, we’ve settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”
Google had $111 billion in ad revenue in the first half of this year, more than any other online ad seller. A consumer’s location is essential to help an advertiser cut through the digital clutter to make the ad more relevant and grab the consumer’s attention.
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