Google decides lawsuit after tracking location when you say ‘no’

Google has reportedly paid nearly $400 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the company tracked users’ locations, even as they made efforts to turn the feature off.

The reported $391.5 million settlement (via The New York Times) is nearly five years in the making and comes after an Associated Press investigation found that Google continued to track users’ GPS locations, even when users had explicitly opted out.

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The group of attorneys general from 40 US states has argued that Google has misled users on iOS and Android. Even when users paused the Location History feature on their devices, Google continued to silently track their movements in the background. The lawsuit alleged that Google would then sell the data to advertisers.

Google posted a blog on Monday confirming the settlement, but not the amount. The company said the case was about “legacy product policies that we changed years ago.” Google also says, “We will be making updates in the coming months to provide greater controls and transparency over location data.”

Google says these updates include the simplified deletion of location data, which Google says “allows users to easily turn off their Location History, Web & App Activity settings, and delete their past data in one simple flow. We’ll also continue to delete location history data for users who haven’t recently contributed location history data.” new account in their accounts.

Google says it is revamping its user information centers to make sure users know that location data can also be useful to them, while the company is also making it easier to make “informed choices” about their data.

Finally, when setting up a new account, Google will provide more detailed information about what users already sign up for. “Settle today is another step on the road to offering more meaningful choices and reducing data collection while providing more useful services,” the company adds in the blog post.

In response to the settlement, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said (via The Verge): “For years, Google has prioritized profit over the privacy of its users. Consumers thought they’d turned off their location-tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use these information for advertisers.

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