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Internet giant Google has agreed to pay a record $391.5 million to settle with 40 states in the U.S. over charges the company misled users about the collection of personal location data.

“Google misled its users into thinking they had turned off location tracking in their account settings, when, in fact, Google continued to collect their location information,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said Monday.

“For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy. They have been crafty and deceptive,” Rosenblum stated.

The investigation was sparked by a 2018 report from the Associated Press that revealed Google was continuing to track users’ locations on Android and iOS even when they turned off “location history” in their account settings, effectively undermining the privacy controls.

Rosenblum said the location data gathered by Google is combined with other personal and behavioural information it collects to flesh out detailed user profiles for purposes of ad targeting, adding even a limited amount of location data can expose a person’s “identity and routines” and that it can be used to infer personal details.

images from Hacker News