Google and the state of California have officially struck a $93 million settlement to end the claims on Google. The state’s attorney general released a report that said the company was illegally gathering consumer data.
After an extensive investigation that lasted several years, the California Department of Justice concluded that the tech giant was “deceiving users by collecting, storing, and using their location data for consumer profiling and advertising purposes without informed consent.”
Rob Bonta, the attorney general for California, added that Google had agreed to take further measures to stop these abuses. The proposed order would extend these proceedings outside of California to other states.
A multi-year investigation by the California Department of Justice led to the conclusion that Google was misleading consumers by gathering, retaining, and exploiting their location data for consumer profiling and advertising without their knowledge.
“Our investigation revealed that Google was telling its users one thing — that it would no longer track their location once they opted out — but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its commercial gain,” said Bonta.
The majority of Google’s income comes from advertising, and location-based advertising, also known as geo-targeted advertising, is a crucial component of Google’s advertising platform since it allows advertisers to target people based on their whereabouts.
According to the Attorney General, Google also uses location data to create behavioral profiles of users to choose which ads to show them.
Bonta says Google misled users about how it gathered, stored, and applied location data in several different ways.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” a Google spokesperson said.
The settlement requires Google to disclose to users the possibility of their location data being used for targeted advertisements and to be more open about how it tracks users’ locations. The state’s attorney general stated that the proposed order must be approved by the court.
The Biden administration claimed in a complaint filed in January that Google’s ad tech division ought to be dismantled.
Other lawmakers are currently looking into Google’s business practices as well. The US DOJ has made broad accusations against Google in a landmark antitrust trial that began earlier this week. The DOJ claims that the tech giant spent billions to operate an illegal monopoly that has harmed every computer and mobile device user in the US by stifling competition and challenging its enormous search engine.