Google collected location data for years without informing its users about it. On the contrary, the company even made its users believe that they could deactivate the tracking. Due to misleading data protection statements, Google must now pay a fine of 391 million US dollars.

Search engine giant Google must pay a fine of 391.5 million US dollars in the USA. The reason: The company is alleged to have collected location data for years without sufficiently informing its users. Instead, the US company suggested that its users could deactivate the tracking.

This is the result of a report published by New York Attorney General Letitia James. According to the report, the company violated consumer protection laws in 40 US states. Investigations concluded that Google collected location data even after users had opted out.

Google must pay $391.5 million fine

Meanwhile, the responsible attorneys general criticized Google for giving its users the option of rejecting the tracking of location data.

However, the U.S. company had not pointed out to them that Google apps also collect location data automatically. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) quotes New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin as saying:

Digital platforms like Google cannot claim to provide privacy controls to users and then disregard those controls to collect and sell data to advertisers against the express wishes of users – and at great profit.

Users to get more control starting in 2023

The $391.5 million settlement, meanwhile, sets a record for federal data privacy, according to lawyers. The Federal Trade Commission, meanwhile, is considering a policy to strengthen online privacy, according to the WSJ.

To this end, the authority wants to target online surveillance and the inaccurate data protection practices of numerous tech companies in particular. The U.S. Congress is also considering legislation to give users more control over their data.

Google, in turn, has agreed to prosecutors to improve its location tracking disclosures and allow its users more control starting in 2023. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum commented, “For years, Google put profit ahead of its users’ privacy. The company has been cunning and deceptive.”