Google Settles Washington, DC, Indiana Lawsuits Totaling $29.5 Million

It'll be easier for people to opt out of Google's location tracking.

Imad Khan Senior Reporter
Imad is a senior reporter covering Google and internet culture. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, Tom's Guide and Wired, among others.
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Imad Khan
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Google has settled two privacy lawsuits -- one brought by Washington, DCthe other by Indiana -- for $9.5 million and $20 million, respectively, over its location-tracking practices, according to reports from Engadget and the Associated Press on Friday. The search giant has agreed to make it easier for people to opt out of location tracking.

The suits, filed by state attorneys general in January 2022, alleged that Google made it "nearly impossible" for people to fully opt out of location tracking. DC Attorney General Karl Racine said Google violated the Consumer Protection Procedures Act by continuing to track user data so that it could keep making money off users. While Google did agree to pay $391.5 million to a coalition of states in November, Indiana and Washington, DC, were not part of that group. Both filed their own lawsuits. This split allowed Indiana to get double the money, according to a press release from the office of the Indiana attorney general.

"Such data can be used to infer personal details such as political or religious affiliation, income, health status or participation in support groups -- as well as major life events such as marriage and the birth of children," according to the Indiana attorney general's office.

Racine praised the resolution for adding language that allowed people to opt out of being tracked, saying "it's only fair" that people be informed about how their data is being used, according to a press release.

In response to a request for comment, Google provided a link to a November blog post about location data management.

It's been an expensive year for Google as it's had to settle a slew of government-led lawsuits, from a $365 million fine in Russia to a $157 million fine in France. The scope of the fines varies, with the France lawsuit focusing on user tracking, whereas the Russian lawsuit dinged Google for failing to remove prohibited content about the war in Ukraine. 

In India, Google, which also owns the mobile operating system Android, was hit with a $113 million fine from the country's Competition Commission for favoring its own apps on Android. Given Google's scope as the maker of the world's most popular search engine, web browser and mobile phone operating system, it will remain a big target for regulators.

Google has agreed to maintain a webpage where it will detail its location-tracking policies and practices and will show people how their location data will be used. The company also can't share a person's precise location with third-party advertisers without the person's explicit consent and must delete that data within 30 days.