Google has agreed to pay a hefty sum of $155 million to settle claims made by California and private plaintiffs regarding the company’s misleading tracking practices. The settlements address allegations that Google deceived consumers about its collection and use of personal data, as well as its ability to track users’ locations even when the “Location History” setting was turned off. This article delves into the details of the settlements and examines the implications for Google and its users.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta expressed his disapproval of Google’s actions, stating that the company misled users by assuring them that their location would no longer be tracked once they opted out, while secretly continuing to track them for its own commercial gain. This deception is deemed unacceptable under California’s laws, leading to the settlement of $93 million imposed on Google. The settlement also mandates that Google provide more transparency about its data collection practices and how it utilizes people’s personal information.
Private Plaintiffs Settlement
Apart from the California settlement, Google also agreed to a $62 million settlement with private plaintiffs. However, it was deemed impractical to distribute the funds directly to the approximately 247.7 million US adults with mobile devices who were affected by Google’s tracking practices. Instead, after deducting legal fees, the settlement money will be allocated to court-approved nonprofit organizations that focus on internet privacy concerns. While this approach has received criticism for offering little benefit to the affected individuals, it was deemed the most feasible option considering the scale of the issue.
Google, in its defense, denied any liability in the case. The settlements reached with California and the private plaintiffs require court approval to be finalized. It is worth noting that this is not the first time Google has faced such allegations. In November of the previous year, the company agreed to pay a staggering $391.5 million to resolve similar claims made by 40 US states. Additionally, Google has reached settlements with Arizona and Washington, amounting to $124.9 million. A spokesperson for Google referred to a blog post discussing a multistate settlement, emphasizing that it addressed outdated product policies that had been changed years ago.
As Google agrees to pay a substantial amount to settle the claims regarding its misleading tracking practices, the repercussions of this settlement will be closely watched. The company’s reputation and commitment to user privacy are at stake, and it must take significant steps to regain users’ trust. The implementation of more transparent data collection practices and improved communication with users will be crucial moving forward. This settlement serves as a reminder to all tech companies that consumer trust is a valuable asset that should never be compromised.