The attorneys general for 40 U.S. states announced today that Google will pay almost $400 million in fines related to user privacy abuses. This is the largest multi-state settlement in U.S. history, and Google has also agreed to certain behavioral changes related to its use of location data.
“This $391.5 million settlement is a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology,” Connecticut attorney general William Tong said. “Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt-out of tracking. Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”
A 2018 Associated Press report demonstrated how Google tracked its users online even after telling them that it would not do so. And in the wake of that report, Connecticut and many other U.S. states passed sweeping consumer privacy laws that partially fill the gap left by the federal government and its inaction on this matter.
The settlement requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about its location tracking practices and must show additional information to users whenever they turn a location-related account setting “on” or “off.” It can no longer hide key information about location tracking or make it unavoidable for users. And it must maintain a dedicated webpage that provides users with detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how that data is used.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” a Google statement notes.
Tagged with Privacy