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Google will improve location tracking disclosures and controls as it settles US privacy investigation

As the result of a privacy investigation launched by US states, Google will improve disclosures and controls around location tracking for Android users and account holders, as well as paying a $392 million dollar settlement.

First reported by Axios, Google has settled an ongoing investigation from 40 US states regarding how Google tracks user locations. The investigation was spurred by a 2022 report that Google was recording the location data of its users even when users had turned off various location settings.

To settle the investigation, Google will pay $392 million along with making some changes to its products.

The settlement was officially announced by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry today.

In response to the settlement, Google has published a blog post on The Keyword detailing three changes to the company’s products that will “provide even greater controls and transparency over location data.” These changes will start to appear in 2023.

The first of these changes will be adding new disclosures around location data to the “Activity controls” and “Data & Privacy” pages. Google will also introduce a new central hub for location data that “highlights key location settings.” Google account holders will also see a “new control” that allows users to turn off Location History and Web & App Activity settings as well as delete that past data “in one simple flow.” Google will also more clearly disclose Web & App Activity settings during the initial account setup.

These changes come following several other privacy changes Google has made over the past couple of years. Over the past year, for example, Google has rolled out the ability to automatically delete data, including location data, on a rolling basis at 3-month, 18-month, and 36-month periods. Google has also introduced an option to delete 15 minutes of account history with one tap.

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