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Google Settles with 40 States over Location Tracking for almost $400 Million

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Why This Privacy Law is Important:

In November 2022, Google agreed to a record-setting $391.5 million settlement with a 40-state coalition of attorneys general over charges that it misled consumers by continuing to collect their location data when the users thought that they had turned them off.


On November 14, 2022, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that, acting in concert with 39 other state attorneys general, he had reached a $391.5 million settlement with Google over its location tracking practices. Google had violated state consumer protection laws by misleading users about how they tracked users for nearly a decade. The settlement, the culmination of a four-year investigation, is the largest internet privacy settlement agreed to by the states.
The settlement alleges that for almost a decade, Google gave users a false impression that when they turned off location tracking services, the internet giant would no longer collect geolocation data about them. However, Google continued to collect and store histories of users’ location data using other elements of their product suite, such as their search, maps, and other apps that connected to Wi-Fi networks and cellphone towers. The data made Google’s digital advertising options, which generate more than $200 billion in annual revenue, more valuable to marketers looking to sell to consumers near their offerings.
The investigation was launched in response to an Associated Press news story released in 2018 that reported many Google services retained location tracking data even if consumers attempted to opt-out. The issue affected 2 billion individuals worldwide on Android devices as well as iPhone users who used Google search or maps functions. Since the US does not have a federal consumer privacy law, it falls to states to draft and implement privacy regulations to protect their citizens.

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