Google agreed to pay $391.5 million to settle charges of claims it illegally tracked users’ locations.

The tech giant has agreed to pay the sum after a probe, led by Oregon and Nebraska, according to the Michigan attorney general’s office.

The Silicon Valley giant is facing escalating legal challenges from state attorneys general.

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The Iowa attorney general’s office said besides the payment, Google must be more transparent with users about when location tracking is taking place.

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Google was also ordered to give users detailed information about location-tracking data on a special web page.

Tom Miller, the Iowa Attorney General said: “When consumers make the decision to not share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that a company will no longer track their every move.

“This settlement makes it clear that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and abide by state and federal privacy laws.”

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Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said: “Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”

The company said recently that it would be “making updates in the coming months to provide even greater controls and transparency over location data.”

Changes include making it simple to erase location data.

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Auto-delete settings will be available to new users, allowing them to instruct Google to erase certain data when it reaches a specified age.

State lawyers started an investigation in 2018, following a claim that Google logged location data even when users instructed it not to

It found that the firm has been misleading users about location-tracking practices since at least 2014, breaking state consumer protection laws.

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Arizona filed a similar case against the advertising behemoth and settled it for $85 million in October 2022.

In January, Texas, Indiana, Washington State, and the District of Columbia also sued it for false location-tracking practices that violated users’ privacy.

Google earned $111 billion in advertising revenue in the first half of this year, more than any other online ad seller.

Source: Reuters

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