Google has to pay a record $391.5 million for spying on its users

The company will have to pay this amount following a lawsuit from 40 states. "For years, Google has prioritized profits over the privacy of its users," said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Google will have to pay $391.5 million to 40 states across the country as compensation for continuing to track private user location information even after users disabled location tracking in device settings.

"Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told it not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy and a violation of state law," wrote Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

Consumer deception

It all started in 2018 when Associated Press published a report alleging that the tech giant was tracking users' locations on Android and iOS operating systems, even when they turned off location tracking. The company defended itself by claiming that the tracking was not accurate and was only allowed for commercial purposes.

However, attorneys general in 40 states filed a privacy lawsuit, concluding that this "violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location tracking practices."

Until we have comprehensive privacy laws, companies will continue to collect large amounts of our personal data for marketing purposes with few controls.

"For years, Google has prioritized profits over the privacy of its users," said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

The company reached a settlement with the 40 states to pay the largest amount ever paid by Google for a privacy claim.

Changes in the Google system

Google has been carrying out these practices continuously since 2014. In addition, it was also accused of not providing enough information about its practices to make users aware that their locations were being tracked.

"When consumers make the decision not to share location data from their devices, they should be able to trust that a company will stop tracking their every move.... This agreement makes it clear that companies must be transparent in how they track customers and comply with state and federal privacy laws," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

The prosecution requested that Google make relevant changes to its tracking system. The company said that it would be "making upgrades in the coming months to provide even greater controls and transparency on location data.” Among the changes - coming in 2023 - will be a new section in Android settings called "location technologies" which will allow users to control what location data is collected. Users will be able to disable this feature.