Google agrees to settle with Illinois and 39 other states for deceptive tracking

Google has agreed to pay nearly $400 million to Illinois and 39 other states to settle a lawsuit over location tracking.

The lawsuit claimed that even when users thought they had turned off location tracking in their settings, Google continued to collect information on their whereabouts.

Google settled a similar lawsuit with Arizona for $85 million last month, and the company faces additional tracking lawsuits in other states, including Indiana.

Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Chicago-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the practice goes on more than you think.

“Many, many companies are collecting people’s location data,” said Schwartz. “For example, every time we download an app, often the app contains a line of code which tracks locations even when you are not using the app and transmits that data to a broker who is paying the app developer for the data.”

The Associated Press reported in 2018 that the privacy issue with location tracking affected some two billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or searches.

“For years Google has prioritized profit over their user’s privacy,” said Oregon State’s Attorney Ellen Rosenblum in a statement. “They have been craft and deceptive. Consumers thought they had turned off their location tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers.”

Google also settled a $100 million class-action lawsuit with Illinois after violating the state’s Biometric Privacy Law for failing to obtain consent from anyone who used its facial recognition technology through Google Photos.