Google LLC will pay $29.5 million to settle two lawsuits brought by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and  Indiana over its location tracking practices.

The settlement was announced on Friday.

Washington, D.C. and Indiana filed suit against Google following a 2018 Associated Press report about the company’s location tracking practices. The report focused on the Location History setting in Google services. 

The search giant, the Associated Press detailed, had informed users that disabling the setting would block its services from collecting their location data. However, blocking data collection also required users to disable a second configuration option known as Web & App Activity. The latter option was enabled by default. 

The lawsuits that the attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and  Indiana brought against Google accused the company of misrepresenting how its location data settings worked. The lawsuits also covered a number of areas. Google was accused of failing to properly explain its default location data settings to users during the account creation process, as well during the Android device setup process and in its privacy policies.

As part of the settlement announced on Friday, Google has agreed to modify several of its business practices. The company will display a pop-up explaining its data collection practices to users who have the Location History or Web & App Activity setting enabled. Additionally, Google will update its account creation page to more clearly explain how location tracking works.

The search giant has also agreed to create a new webpage dubbed the location technologies page. It will contain detailed information on what location data Google collects, the source of that data and how users can block location tracking. 

“My office reached a settlement with Google requiring the company to pay $9.5 million for deceiving and manipulating consumers—including by using ‘dark patterns’ to trick users and gain access to their location data,” said former Washington, D.C attorney general Karl Racine.

“To protect Hoosier’s data, my office pursued our own lawsuit against Google’s deceptive location tracking practices – and won,” stated Indiana attorney general Todd Rokita. “This $20 million settlement is nearly double what the state would’ve received if we stayed in the multistate investigation.”

Google’s settlement with Washington, D.C. and Indiana comes about a month after it settled a similar lawsuit brought by 40 state attorneys general over its location tracking practices. Google agreed to pay a $391.5 million penalty to end the lawsuit. Earlier, the company was fined $42.7 million in Australia over Android’s location tracking settings.

Google in November announced a series of planned changes to its location settings that will make it easier for users to disable data collection. Previously, the company added privacy controls that enable users to delete data already collected by Google services. 

Photo: Google

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