Using any type of electronic device can be extremely convenient, but it can also be a privacy gamble. For decades tech giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft have preached the importance of users’ privacy, but always manage to find themselves in hot water. Despite claims of making users’ data security a top priority, Google is once again under fire for “misleading and deceptive tactics regarding users’ location data,” according to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
On Monday, it was announced that Google agreed to pay $391.5 million to 40 states to settle the investigation into its location tracking practices, of which Officer Rosenblum helped lead. According to Rosenblum, “Consumers thought they had turned off their location tracking features on Google, but the company continued to secretly record their movements and use that information for advertisers.”
In 2020, Arizona’s attorney general Mark Brnovich alleged in a lawsuit that the company “engaged in deceptive and unfair practices toward users by tracking their location data even when the company was told to stop.” Google recently settled the suit via an $85 million agreement.
Earlier this year, Texas, Indiana, Washington and the District of Columbia (D.C.) filed individual lawsuits against the tech leader for alleged privacy violations sparked by a 2018 press report stating that, “Google records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.” The company insisted the information was used to improve people’s experience, and Google spokesperson José Castañeda claimed that the issues had already been addressed stating, “Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.” Castañeda also insisted that the settlement was not a lawsuit, but a means to resolve the investigation.
Despite its string of legal issues, Google has remained positive regarding the allegations, and insisted that they were all based on prior, outdated policies that are no longer in place. However, users’ should be aware that anything like this is possible when using electronics, and take data security steps to ensure their private information is safe.