Google will pay $85M settlement to Arizona to end user-tracking suit

Google will pay an $85 million settlement to the state of Arizona in order to resolve claims that the company illegally tracked the location of Android device users.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued Google in May 2020, claiming that “dark patterns” (design tactics that can manipulate user behavior) were built into its software on Android phones and apps. The suit argued that Google kept location tracking running in the background to collect advertising data, even after users had turned off location sharing, and made privacy settings to keep location information private needlessly difficult to find. This follows a 2018 report from The Associated Press that found Google tracks users through services like Google maps, weather updates, and browser searches, even with Location History switched off.

As Bloomberg reports, this settlement is one of the largest ever paid by Google per capita in a consumer fraud lawsuit. “When I was elected attorney general, I promised Arizonans I would fight for them and hold everyone, including corporations like Google, accountable,” Brnovich said in a statement. “I am proud of this historic settlement that proves no entity, not even big tech companies, is above the law.”

Google spokesperson José Castañeda claimed that the case was based on outdated product policies that have long since been updated. “We provide straightforward controls and auto delete options for location data, and are always working to minimize the data we collect,” Castañeda said. “We are pleased to have this matter resolved and will continue to focus our attention on providing useful products for our users.”