Google has agreed to pay $155 million to settle allegations by California and private plaintiffs, accusing the company of secretly tracking customers and using their data without consent.
Google was accused of profiling users and targeting them with ads even when the location history setting was off, which contradicted the company’s assurances that unwanted ads could be blocked by users.
The search engine company’s agreement to the settlements shows that Google deceived people into thinking that they had a say in how it collected and used their personal data, which Californian Attorney, General Rob Bonta believes is unacceptable.
He revealed in a statement that “Google was telling its users one thing–that it would no longer track their location once they opted out–but doing the opposite and continuing to track its users’ movements for its own commercial gain,”
Google’s payments come in two forms. $93 million will be paid to settle the California suit, while $62 million will be paid to the private plaintiffs. In addition, Google will be required to reveal how it covertly tracks people and uses their data.
After the lawyers deduct their legal fees, the remainder of the $62 million will be used to fund non-profit organisations that track internet privacy concerns.
This is not the first time Google has had to settle allegations of it secretly tracking and using users’ data. The company also agreed to pay $391.5 million in November 2022, to settle similar lawsuits brought forward by 40 US states.
These suits are highly unlikely to bankrupt the search giant though, for it made $110.9 billion from ad revenue in the first half of 2023, accounting for 87% of the revenue it has made this year, according to Reuters.