Alphabet Inc’s Google will pay $85-million to resolve a consumer privacy suit by Arizona claiming the technology giant surreptitiously collects data on users’ whereabouts for targeted advertising. The settlement comes as Google is facing similar complaints by a group of state attorneys general, including Texas, Indiana and Washington, in their respective state courts, over user location data.
Why Does it Matter
Arizona accused Google in a May 2020 complaint of violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by gathering location data even after users opt out of a feature that records location history through other settings such as “Web & App Activity”. Google, in its defence, had argued that the state consumer protection law requires that alleged fraud is connected to a sale or advertisement. In January, an Arizona state judge denied Google’s request to dismiss the case.
The settlement represents the largest amount per individual user Google has paid in “a privacy and consumer-fraud lawsuit of this kind”. Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. “I am proud of this historic settlement that proves no entity, not even big tech companies, is above the law,” Brnovich said in a statement. José Castañeda, a spokesman for Google, said Arizona’s suit was based on old product policies that the company changed years ago. “We provide straightforward controls and auto delete options for location data, and are always working to minimise the data we collect,” Castañeda said. “We are pleased to have this matter resolved and will continue to focus our attention on providing useful products for our users.”