The Google building in New York City (Donatingpictures via Wikimedia Commons)
The Google building in New York City (Donatingpictures via Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced Friday that Google will pay $9.5 million to the city to resolve allegations that it deceived and manipulated consumers to gain access to their location data, making it nearly impossible for users to stop their whereabouts from being tracked.

Under the terms of the settlement, Google must pay $9.5 million to the District in the form of a penalty; issue notifications to users who presently have certain location settings enabled; clearly inform users of data collection when they enable location-related Google account settings; maintain a webpage that discloses Google’s policies and practices concerning data location; improve users’ ability to identify location-related controls; limit sharing of users’ data and retention of data; and prepare annual compliance reports.

Google has also agreed to several important changes to informing its users how location data is collected, stored and utilized. The OAG opened an investigation into the tech giant’s location tracking practices following a 2018 Associated Press story that revealed it “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.”

“Given the vast level of tracking and surveillance that technology companies can embed into their widely used products, it is only fair that consumers be informed of how important user data, including information about their every move, is gathered, tracked, and utilized by these companies,” Racine said. “Significantly, this resolution also provides users with the ability and choice to opt of being tracked, as well as restrict the manner in which user information may be shared with third parties.”

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