Google will pay Arizona $85M to settle lawsuit over Android's location tracking

The Google Logo in Black and White under a sepia shade
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google will pay $85 million to Arizona to settle a privacy lawsuit.
  • The company was sued back in 2020 for allegedly using Android users' location data to power its advertising engine.
  • Google said the accusation was based on outdated policies.

In another win for privacy, Google has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Arizona's attorney general in 2020 against the search giant for allegedly collecting location data from Android users for targeted ads.

Bloomberg reports that Google will pay $85 million in settlement of the case. Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich called the settlement one of the largest in the state's history.

The lawsuit stemmed from Google's practices of collecting Android users' location data without their consent. Brnovich accused the company of employing "dark patterns," or deceptive practices used to manipulate user behavior and obtain location data. 

According to the lawsuit, this manipulative tactic was incorporated into Android phones and apps, including mapping and weather apps, allowing Google's location trackers to run in the background even when users turned off location tracking, a practice that appears to violate Arizona's consumer-protection laws.

Google was also accused of making privacy settings for hiding location data from prying eyes difficult to find. Menus, for example, were difficult to locate, and the default tracking settings were changed in some cases without the users' knowledge.

In addition to Arizona, the AGs of Indiana, Texas, and Washington state sued Google in their respective state courts for the same offense. The search giant was also fined $40 million in Australia for allegedly misleading users about how it collected their personal location data. 

In a statement, Google spokesperson José Castañeda said the case was based on outdated policies that were changed long ago. “We provide straightforward controls and auto delete options for location data, and are always working to minimize the data we collect,” Castañeda said.

The settlement pales in comparison to the other fines imposed on the company elsewhere. In Europe, for example, Google was fined €4.34 billion in 2018 for allegedly having an unfair monopoly on Android.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.