California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the conclusion of a multi-year investigation into Google’s practices related to collecting user data that has ended in a $93 million settlement
The investigation determined that Google violated California consumer protection laws by “collecting, storing, and using location data for consumer profiling and advertising purposes without informed consent.”
Google generates the majority of its revenue from advertising and being able to offer location-based advertising is a key feature for advertisers to target users based on their location. Google also uses location data to define user profiles based on their behaviors.
The investigation determined that even though it had told consumers that it would no longer track location data if they opted out, Google continued the data collection and processing “through other sources.”
Along with the financial settlement, Google must also adhere to additional practices, including providing more transparency about location tracking, disclosing when location data is used for targeted advertising, and creating a page to explain in detail how it collects and uses location data. The actions will apply beyond the state of California.
The settlement is pending court approval. Last November, Google settled similar allegations with 40 US states
that amounted to $391.5 million. Arizona, Washington, and California all chose to litigate separately. California is the last state to resolve the complaint.
“Over the past few years, we’ve introduced more transparency and tools to help you manage your data and minimize the data we collect,” Google posted on its blog
. “Consistent with those improvements, we settled an investigation with 40 U.S. state attorneys general based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”
Google is embroiled in several lawsuits right now, including one of the largest antitrust cases in US history. The US Department of Justice alleges that Google has been stifling competition through practices including Google’s exclusive contracts to ensure Google is the default search engine on many devices.
It is also facing litigation by a number of states that allege Google has been inflating prices in its Google Play Store for paid apps and in-app purchases in the Android market.