On November 14, 2022, Google LLC (“Google”) agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with the attorneys general of 40 U.S. states over the company’s location tracking controls available in its user account settings.
The investigation by the state attorneys general found that, between 2014 and 2020, Google misled users by failing to disclose that toggling the “Location History” setting to off did not disable all tracking activities. The settlement noted that Google retained the ability to track users’ location via the “Web & App Activity” setting, and used the information for targeted advertising purposes.
As part of the settlement, Google has agreed to provide its users with more clarity in its location tracking disclosures and user controls. Beginning in 2023, Google will display key information about location tracking in a way that is “unavoidable for users” (i.e., not hidden) and will show contextual information whenever users make a choice about location tracking. The company also agreed to revise its location technologies disclosures to better describe how it collects and uses geolocation data.
The settlement follows a separate October 2022 agreement between Google and Arizona for deceptive location tracking practices. The company faces additional lawsuits brought by the District of Columbia, Indiana and Texas over similar allegations.