The consumer data tracking case filed by the State of California against tech titan Google came to an end on Thursday, September 14th, with the latter agreeing to pay a settlement worth $93 million.
According to a statement, Google agreed to settle the matter in keeping with recent improvements to its product policies regarding online marketing and advertising.
By agreeing to the settlement, Google also agreed to become more transparent regarding its location tracking features. To do so, it is now required to disclose to users that any data regarding their location may be used for targeted advertising purposes. However, the implementation of this ruling is dependent on court approval.
The settlement is seen as the conclusion to an investigation regarding Google’s underhand data collecting practices which essentially gleaned, stored, and used users’ location details without their consent. The data gathered in the process was then used for consumer profiling and online marketing.
Betraying the Public Trust
For his part, state Attorney General Rob Bonta commended the tech company for taking responsibility for the issue and initiating measures to prevent the revival of unsanctioned practices.
At the beginning of the investigation, Bonta pointed out that Google had not been forthright regarding its data collection and storage methods, particularly those involving the location of individual users.
As far as the original complaint went, the tech company found ways to get data from users even when they switched off the location history settings on Google in their computers and mobile devices.
Still in Hot Water
Despite the settlement, Google still faces other cases regarding different aspects of its operations, as well as its corporate structure as the US government filed a lawsuit earlier this year calling for the breakup of the company’s ad-tech business.
As of Monday, September 11th, government prosecutors opened an antitrust trial against Google based on allegations by the Department of Justice that the tech titan stifled potential competitors in the search engine sector on purpose over a period spanning several years.
Based on documents filed, Google spent billions to operate what has essentially become an illegal monopoly that has done more harm than good to all digital users in the United States and even overseas.