Arizona AG Mark Brnovich reaches $85 million settlement with Google

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Arizona AG Mark Brnovich reaches $85 million settlement with Google

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced on Tuesday that his office had reached an $85 million settlement with Google over the state s lawsuit against Alphabet-owned tech giant's efforts to track user's locations.

The settlement marks the end of one of the biggest consumer fraud lawsuits in the state s history, according to Brnovich s office.

When I was elected attorney general, I promised Arizonans that I would fight for them and hold companies like Google accountable, Brnovich said in a statement. I am proud of this historic settlement that shows that no entity, not even big tech companies, is above the law. In May 2020, Brnovich's office sued Google, alleging that the tech giant used deceptive and unfair practices to track users' location, even if they had opted out - and used that information to target users with ads that generated more than $130 billion in revenue in 2019.

The practice surfaced when the Associated Press reported in 2018 that Google could still track users' locations even after they had opted out of Google's access to location history. Some Google apps automatically store time-stamped data without a prompt, such as storing a snapshot of a location just when someone opens its Maps application, even with location history paused.

Google later tweaked its privacy settings, but Brnovich s office launched the lawsuit, alleging that Google acted deceptively, misleading consumers.

In an interview last year, Brnovich told FOX Business that when consumers try to opt out of Google's location data, the company is continuing to find misleading ways to obtain that information and then use it for their financial advantage.

Google accused Arizona of misinterpreting what Google does, and that the lawsuit has been encouraged by Oracle -- which has fought with Google in court over the rights to software code used in its Android software. Bloomberg News reported that Oracle has been lobbying regulators and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and the E.U. Google went after it, because it had concerns about privacy.

A Google spokesman said last year that the Attorney General and our competitors driving this lawsuit have gone out of their way to mischaracterize our services. Privacy features have always been included in our products, as well as robust controls for location data. Google tried to have the suit thrown out this year, arguing that the state had failed to show that the policies of the company had violated Arizona's consumer fraud law and that it has since clarified its privacy disclosures to customers.

Judge Timothy Thomason agreed that the state's contention that Google's alleged deception is in connection with the sale or advertising of merchandise is somewhat strained, and partially allowed by Google's request for summary judgment as to the state's theory that the sale of ads to their parties is linked to a consumer sale. The judge denied Google's motion to toss the case in all other respects.

The settlement announced Tuesday that it would direct the bulk of the money to the state's general fund, with $5 million for attorney general education programs.