Google under investigation for tracking users’ location without consent, says report

The Google Maps app seen on an iPhone.

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Arizona is investigating Google’s practices when it comes to tracking user location, according to a Tuesday report in The Washington Post.

If the investigation finds evidence Google has violated user privacy, the state’s attorney general, Mark Brnovich, could potentially slap the search giant with a heavy fine, the Post said in its report. Brnovich’s office didn’t confirm the existence of the inquiry to the Post, which based its report on confirmation from an anonymous source. 

The attorney general’s office didn’t respond to CNET’s request for comment.

Last month, an investigation by the Associated Press found that Google services on Android devices track and store your location data even if you turn location history off in your privacy settings. Google apps reportedly store your time-stamped location data, which is used to target geography-specific ads. Google told the AP that it lets users know about tools that tap location data and that the company provides “robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

In Arizona, Brnovich could make the issue a consumer protection case and seek a penalty of up to $10,000 per violation, which would make the fine extremely high for Google, the Post said. 

When asked about the Post report, a Google spokesperson provided the following statement:

“Geographic information helps us provide useful services when people interact with our products, like locally relevant search results and traffic predictions. There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: location history, web and app activity, and through device-level location services. People can delete their location history or web and app activity anytime at myaccount.google.com.”

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