Google has to pay out big after it settled a lawsuit for allegedly “deceiving users and invading their privacy” in Washington, D.C.
Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine — who also recently won a settlement against Grubhub — accused Google of violating the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act and employing “dark patterns,” or design choices that are meant to trick users into doing things that don’t benefit them, like turning on location tracking.
Google has agreed to a settlement payout of $9.5 million and to change its practices regarding how it tells users about collecting, storing, and using their location data. Through it all, Google still denies any wrongdoing, according to the DCist. The site also agreed to create a compliance report every year for the next four years to prove that it is abiding by the terms of the settlement.
The complaint, which Racine filed in January 2022, alleged that Google led customers to believe they’re in control of whether or not the platform collects and keeps their location data, but that isn’t the case; instead, consumers “cannot prevent Google from collecting, storing, and profiting from their location,” the complaint read, according to Engadget.
“We sued because Google made it nearly impossible for users to stop their location from being tracked,” Racine tweeted after the settlement was reached. “Now, thanks to this settlement, Google must also make clear to consumers how their location data is collected, stored, and used.”
In a blog post from November, Google wrote that the “settlement is another step along the path of giving more meaningful choices and minimizing data collection while providing more helpful services.”