Pocket Change: Google to Pay $391 Million in Privacy Settlement over Tracking Users Without Consent

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, speaks at Google's annual developer confer

Google is set to pay $391 million in a privacy settlement after 40 states accused the tech giant of tracking the location of users who opted out of the location services on their devices.

Google has been instructed as part of the settlement to be transparent about location tracking, as well as create a web page that informs users about the data the company collects, according to a report by BBC News.

While this is reportedly the “largest privacy-related multi-state settlement in U.S. history,” the settlement is chump change for Google, which is currently worth a staggering $1.28 trillion.

google map on a cell phone

(Justin Sullivan/Getty)

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” a Google spokesperson said.

In 2020, Arizona’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Google accusing the firm of illegally collecting smartphone users’ location data.

“It’s nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements without your knowledge or consent,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich said at the time.

Last month, the Silicon Valley giant agreed to pay Arizona $85 million over the issue concerning how the tech giant collects the location data of its users.

Knowing a user’s location helps advertisers target products, which in turn helps Google generate hundreds of billions in annual revenue derived from advertising.

“For years Google has prioritized profit over its users’ privacy,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. “It has 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,” Rosenblum continued.

The attorneys general added that Google had been misleading consumers about location tracking since at least 2014, a move that breaks state consumer protection laws.

In December 2019, the EU announced that Google was facing yet another antitrust investigation just months after being fined $1.7 billion for violations.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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