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Google to Pay $85 Million to Settle Arizona User-Tracking Suit

Alphabet Inc.’s

GOOG 2.83%

Google will pay the state of Arizona $85 million to settle a 2020 lawsuit in which the search giant was accused of deceiving users by recording their locations even after they tried to turn off the company’s tracking on their smartphones and web browsers.

Google used the location information to sell ads for billions of dollars in profits, the state said. The bulk of the settlement money will go toward a general fund in the state, it said.

The outcome of the case “proves no entity, not even big tech companies, is above the law,” Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich

said in a prepared statement.

Google denied any wrongdoing. A company spokesman said the case is based on outdated product policies that were changed years ago.

“We provide straightforward controls and auto delete options for location data, and are always working to minimize the data we collect,” he said.

Lawsuits similar to Arizona’s have also been brought against Google by Indiana, Texas and Washington state courts, as well as Washington, D.C. The suits stem from a 2018 Associated Press article that reported Google’s practices were inconsistent with its statements to users.

Lawmakers and regulators have been weighing proposals to impose broad privacy protections online following years of complaints from advocacy groups, who say the current legal protections for consumers aren’t sufficient.

Google’s settlement with Arizona comes after the company suffered other legal blows last month.

The European Union’s General Court in Luxembourg largely upheld a 2018 decision by the EU competition regulator that fined Google $4.33 billion for allegedly abusing the market dominance of its Android operating system for mobile phones to promote and entrench its Google search engine and Chrome browser on mobile devices.

Separately, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied the bulk of Google’s motion to dismiss the claims brought by a coalition of states led by Texas alleging Google abused its dominance in digital advertising tools, allowing the case to proceed to the discovery stage and ultimately toward trial.

In July, Google parent Alphabet reported its slowest quarterly sales growth in two years, as macroeconomic pressures weigh on the market for digital ads.

Alphabet shares were up close to 3% in midday trading Tuesday. The shares have slipped around 30% so far this year, in line with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]

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