The largest multistate privacy settlement in American history, according to state attorneys general, was reached between Google and 40 states in connection with an inquiry into how the business tracked users’ whereabouts.
The states’ inquiry discovered that Google continued to track people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking, which authorities said was inspired by a 2018 Associated Press piece.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul of Illinois said in a statement that “consumers were misled by Google as to when their location was being recorded and how that information was used.” “Today’s announcement underlines the need for improved privacy regulations that more effectively safeguard consumers in light of the growth of smart gadgets that collect increasing data on their users.”
Raoul claims that Illinois will get more than $19.5 million as part of the settlement.
Even if you’ve selected a privacy setting that states it will stop Google from using your location data, many Google services on Android and iPhone devices still save information, according to the AP. At the request of the AP, Princeton computer scientists corroborated these findings.
Police have used such data storage to locate suspects, but it comes with privacy risks. The AP reported in 2018 that the privacy problem with location monitoring affects hundreds of millions of global iPhone users who depend on Google for maps or searches, as well as about two billion users of devices using Google’s Android operating system.
Location data, which they referred to as the most sensitive and priceless personal data the corporation obtains, is a crucial component of Google’s digital advertising business, according to the attorneys general who conducted the investigation. According to them, even a modest amount of location information can disclose a person’s identity and habits.
According to the state regulators, Google uses location data to target consumers with advertisements from its clients.
According to the attorneys general, Google has been breaking state consumer protection laws since at least 2014 by misleading customers about its location monitoring activities. Google also consented to make those practices more transparent to users as part of the settlement, including by providing them with more information when they change location account settings on and off and by maintaining a webpage that informs users of the data Google obtains.
Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin are among the other states that are a part of the settlement.