Google settles California lawsuit over its location-privacy practices

The settlement follows a multi-year investigation by the California Department of Justice.


Google will pay $93 million in a settlement it reached with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, resolving allegations that the company’s location-privacy practices violated the state’s consumer protection laws. The California Department of Justice claimed that Google was “collecting, storing, and using their location data” for consumer advertising purposes without informed consent.

The complaint alleges that Google continued to collect consumer data related to a user’s location even when a user turned the “location history” feature off. The company settled similar lawsuits in Arizona and Washington last year for illegally tracking consumers.

In addition to paying $93 million, Google agreed to “deter future misconduct.” This settlement, which won’t really hurt Google’s deep pockets, is important because the tech giant generates the majority of its revenue from advertising and location-based advertising is a critical feature of its advertising platform.

"Consistent with improvements we've made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago," Google spokesperson José Castañeda told Engadget.

Moving forward, the California AG is asking Google to provide additional transparency about location tracking by providing users with detailed information about location data it collects. The company must also provide disclaimers to users that their location information may be used for ad personalization.

Update, September 16, 2023, 2:26 AM ET: This story has been updated to add Google's statement.