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Tech giant to pay $62M in smartphone location tracking suit

Courts Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Consumer Protection Settlement


On September 14, 2023, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary approval of a proposed Class Action Settlement Agreement and Release pursuant to which a tech giant will pay $62 million to resolve claims that it illegally tracked and stored such users’ private location information even after users opted out. According to the filing, the proposed settlement “would be used to pay for the costs of Notice and Settlement administration, any Court-awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses and Class Representative Service Awards” with the balance being “distributed to one or more Court-approved cy pres recipients” each of which must be “independent 501(c)(3) organizations with a track record of addressing privacy concerns on the Internet.”

The company also agreed to injunctive relief for a period of at least three years, requiring it to, among other things: (i) “maintain a policy whereby (a) Location Information stored through Location History (“LH”) and Web & App Activity (“WAA”) is automatically deleted by default after a period of at least 18 months when users opt into these settings for the first time, and (b) users can set their own auto-delete periods;” (ii) provide users with instructions on how to disable each data collection setting, delete the data collected, and set retention limits; and (iii) confirm that the company “does not now share users’ precise Location Information collected in LH or WAA with third parties (except for valid legal reasons).” The settlement class includes as many as 247 million smartphone users whose location information the company stored “while “Location History” was disabled” from January 1, 2014, through the notice date.

In a statement on September 15, a spokesperson for the company said “[c]onsistent with improvements we've made in recent years, we have settled this matter, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago."