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Google settles Arizona location data lawsuit for $85 million

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Internet giant Google has agreed to pay $85 million to the state of Arizona to settle a lawsuit brought by the Arizona Attorney General’s office over the way the company used its customers’ location data. The agreement avoids a trial that was scheduled to begin Oct. 24.

« When I was elected attorney general, I promised Arizonans that I would fight for them and hold everyone accountable, including companies like Google, » said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who filed a lawsuit against Google in May 2020, claiming the company was deceptively collecting users’ location data in exchange for millions of dollars in profits.

According to Brnovich’s office, the investigation began after the Associated Press revealed how Google was deceiving Internet users about its data collection practices and use of location data. 

When smartphone users turned off their location history in their phone settings, Google continued to track their behavior through settings such as « Web & app activity. » And it was through these dark patterns that Google could continue to collect data to sell ads.

The company said the lawsuits incorrectly and inaccurately describe users’ settings and controls over location data. 

According to the company, this geographic data is an integral part of how smartphones work and helps users navigate around traffic jams, find lost phones and locate nearby businesses.

The tech giant also said it will automatically delete users’ location data after two years, allow users to erase their location data or stop saving it at any time, and offer an incognito mode for Google Maps. The company also promised that it would never sell users’ location data to advertisers or anyone else.

According to the agreement, $7.75 million will be paid to Arizona lawyers. The remaining $77 million goes to the state, of which $5 million will be spent by Brnovich on attorney general education programs on consumer protection issues. The Arizona Legislature will use the remainder to fund « Internet education and privacy efforts and goals. »

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