Although Google is under intense regulatory examination in the EU, other nations are gradually beginning to look into large internet giants more seriously. The US search industry is under pressure, as evidenced by last week’s $400 million settlement of a case involving user location monitoring that was filed in 2018.
40 states filed the case, alleging that Google was improperly recording user whereabouts. According to Reuters, Oregon and Nebraska’s attorneys general spearheaded the probe because they objected to Google continuing to follow users even after they turned off location history. It looks that this has been a problem since 2014.
In order to address this issue, Google noted in a blog post that it ceased this practise years ago and revised location history options. A new incognito mode on Google Maps, the option to automatically remove location data on a rolling basis, and increased openness about Maps and Search data are all improvements. The auto-delete option is also turned on by default for new accounts.
Consumer privacy is one of my office’s top priorities. That’s why it’s so important to me that Oregon played a key role in this settlement. Until we have comprehensive privacy laws, companies will continue to compile large amounts of our personal data for marketing purposes with few controls.”
-Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
Nevertheless, Google has agreed to pay about $392 million to resolve the location privacy dispute. It involves the dominant search engine making its disclosures on location tracking more transparent starting in 2019. Google also needs to adjust how it gathers data, specifically the types of information it can gather when users disable location data, especially for one app or setting but not for others.
Following the settlement report, Google quickly published a blog post outlining the modifications to its location data collection that we can anticipate in the upcoming months. These adjustments offer “greater controls and transparency over location data.” The modifications include updating user information hubs and adding new disclosures to Google’s Activity Controls and Data & Privacy pages.
Second, a new tool for users will be provided that will make it easier for them to view, delete, or switch off the history of their location data and online activity. Users who don’t intend to share their location history data will likewise have their location history deleted by Google.
There are now a couple more lawsuits against Google being looked into. This year, the firm was sued by a number of US states for having intrusive location tracking problems. Google recently had to pay a record $4.1 billion for antitrust infractions involving Android, and it also faces more fines in the EU for Google Shopping.