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- BBC News World
Users had disabled the geolocation feature on their devices because they didn’t want to be tracked, but Google still knew their location.
Today, the US company reached a settlement with authorities in dozens of US states to pay $391.5 million to end a dispute over how it collects user data.
This is the largest multi-state settlement on privacy issues in US history.
The tech giant has come under fire from attorneys general in 40 states across the country, who have accused it of continuing to track users who have disabled location-based services on their devices.
A Google official said the investigation was based on “outdated product policies” that were changed years ago and said the agreement reached to end it was “consistent” with improvements Google’s business has made in recent years .
Last month, Google agreed to pay Arizona $85 million over similar issues with how it collects user location data.
It now has an ongoing case on the matter in US courts, after Texas, Indiana, Washington and the District of Columbia filed lawsuits against the company in January.
Knowing a user’s location allows advertisers to target campaigns to promote their products.
And location services help Google generate $200 billion in annual advertising revenue.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who led the case with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, said, “For years, Google has prioritized profit over the privacy of its users. It was cunning and deceptive.”
“Consumers thought they had disabled location-based features at Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers,” he added.
The attorneys general said Google has been misleading consumers since at least 2014, violating state consumer protection laws.
They also called on the company to significantly improve user controls and the way it reveals location tracking from 2023.