Google has reached a $93 million settlement with the state of California to resolve allegations that it was collecting consumers’ data without their consent, the state’s attorney general said in a statement Thursday.
The California Department of Justice found that, after a multi-year investigation, the tech giant was “deceiving users by collecting, storing, and using their location data for consumer profiling and advertising purposes without informed consent.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta also said Google accepted taking future actions to prevent those practices. These actions would apply beyond California to other states, according to the proposed order.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” a Google spokesperson said.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 company pointed to a 2022 blog post which introduced transparency tools, such as auto-delete controls and incognito mode on Google Maps.
Google’s location-based advertising is an important part of its business because companies want to cater their content based on who lives where, the state said. The state also said that Google factors in location in its “behavioral profile” of users.
Bonta had alleged Google wasn’t truthful about its location collection and storage tactics. For example, the original complaint said that Google continued to collect and store location data even when users turned off the “location history” setting, just in different ways.
As part of the settlement, Google would have to be more transparent about its location tracking and disclose to users that their location information could be used for targeted ads. The proposed order is subject to court approval, the state’s attorney general said.
A lawsuit by the Biden administration in January argued Google’s ad tech business should be broken up.
Google’s practices are under scrutiny by other lawmakers right now, too. A landmark antitrust trial against Google opened earlier this week, with sweeping allegations from the US DOJ that for years the company intentionally stifled competition challenging its massive search engine, accusing the tech giant of spending billions to operate an illegal monopoly that has harmed every computer and mobile device user in the United States.
For Google’s opening statement in that case, attorney John Schmidtlein said that Apple’s decision to make Google the default search engine in its Safari browser demonstrates how Google’s search engine is the superior product consumers prefer.
Last week, Google reached an agreement in principle with multiple US states to settle an antitrust lawsuit for its alleged conduct in the Google Play Store. The lawsuit alleged the company inflated prices for paid apps and in-app purchases in the Android app market.