Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has agreed to pay a total fine of $391.5 million for the unauthorized use of the service’s users’ location data. Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that the fine has been paid to dozens of US states.
Google derives most of its revenue from using the personal data of those who search in the company’s browsers and use its apps. The company’s online reach allows it to target consumers without their knowledge or consent, Nessel said in a statement.
The location history settings issue was raised in 2018 following an article published by the American news agency Associated Press. He stated that “Google tracks your movements, even if you explicitly say don’t”.
According to a Google spokesperson, the allegations were about company policies that have since been amended. However, the group will not escape settlement with a cash-only payment. In the future, the attorney general’s office said, Google should be more transparent to consumers about when so-called location tracking occurs and provide users with detailed information about location data on a special web page.
Location data tracking is particularly sensitive in the US since the US Supreme Court struck down the national right to abortion in June this year. Authorities could use the data, for example, to track women who choose to have an abortion in another state. Because of these concerns, Google previously announced that it would automatically delete data from people who went to sensitive locations, including abortion clinics.
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