Google Settles Location Tracking Cases in D.C. and Indiana

In the waning days of 2022, Google settled separate location tracking cases in Washington D.C. and the state of Indiana. The online giant will pay a total of $29.5 million in fines—$9.5 million to D.C. and $20 million to Indiana—and undergo behavioral changes aimed at preventing privacy-related abuses in the future. And it comes in the wake of a similar $391.5 million settlement with 40 other U.S. states.

“We sued because Google made it nearly impossible for users to stop their location from being tracked,” former D.C. attorney general Karl A. Racine tweeted about the settlement. “Now, thanks to this settlement, Google must also make clear to consumers how their location data is collected, stored, and used.”

“This settlement is another manifestation of our steadfast commitment to protect [our residents] from Big Tech’s intrusive schemes,” Indiana attorney general Todd Rokita announced. “We will continue holding these companies accountable for their improper manipulation of consumers.”

Google’s deceptive location tracking practices first came to light in 2018 when the Associated Press reported that Google would continue tracking your location even when a customer explicitly configured their settings to disallow that tracking. In the wake of that report, many U.S. states passed sweeping consumer privacy laws that help fill the gap left by federal laws.

As with the previous settlement, Google has admitted no wrongdoing but it agrees to honor users’ wishes about location tracking. The firm will also clearly explain to its customers how their location data is collected, stored, and used when that tracking is allowed.

Google documents the material steps it will take to protect user privacy in a November 2022 blog post.

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