RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Following a four-year investigation, Google has agreed to pay Virginia $10 million to settle accusations that they intentionally hid the scope of their tracking services from users.
The money came as part of a wider settlement with 40 states — totaling $391 million — who opened a joint investigation in 2018 following reports that Google was recording the movements of users even when they opted out of tracking.
Effectively, the investigation found that Google misled users by hiding the “Location History” setting and failing to warn them that another setting — “Web & App Activity” — also gave the company extensive location information.
“It is imperative that companies take customers’ personal data protection seriously and are transparent and direct about the data collected,” Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said.
In addition to the monetary settlement, Google is also required to make several changes to its privacy practices, including adding informational pop-ups when users adjust location settings, prominently displaying information on locations tracking and publishing a “Location Technologies” website that details the full extent of Google’s tracking practices.
Google and other major technology companies have faced enormous pushback not only in the United States, but in Europe and Asia, where the tech giants’ have been hit with multi-billion dollar fines for flouting anti-trust and privacy laws.