California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a $93 million settlement with Google, Inc. on Thursday in a lawsuit over the company’s location tracking practices. The lawsuit initially arose when Bonta accused Google of violating that several California Business and Professions Code (BPC) provisions regarding the company’s statements about their use and collection of users’ location data.
Under the proposed final judgment, Google will no longer make misrepresentations to users regarding its location tracking practices. The judgment mandates that Google must notify users when location tracking is enabled. Additionally, Google must maintain a webpage that discloses its location tracking practices and policies and provide compliance reports to the California Office of the Attorney General. Google must also pay $93 million to the Attorney General pursuant to section 17206 of the BPC, which provides civil penalties for violations.
Bonta sued Google for violating the false advertising and unfair competition BPC provisions, alleging that the company “deceived users into enabling the location history setting.” According to the complaint, when enabled, this setting continually tracks a user’s location and creates a detailed record of this data for targeted advertising purposes. The complaint also asserts that Google used deceptive prompts that misled users into “unwittingly enabling” the location history setting. Lastly, the complaint alleged that even when a user’s location history is turned off, location data was still collected from other sources.
In response to the settlement, Bonta stated:
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 own commercial gain. That’s unacceptable, and we’re holding Google accountable with today’s settlement. I want to thank my Consumer Protection Section for their work on this matter and for securing important privacy safeguards on behalf of all Californians.
California is not the only state to take action against Google for its location tracking practices. In November 2022, attorneys general in 40 states reached a $391.5 million multi-state settlement with Google over the same issue. The agreement was the largest US privacy settlement in history.