Google has agreed to a US$391.5 million (£333 million) settlement with 40 states in connection with an investigation into how it tracks users’ location, the state attorney general has announced.
They called it the largest multi-state privacy settlement in US history.
A 2018 Associated Press (AP) article spurred a state investigation, officials said, that Google continued to track people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking. I understand.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement:
“Location data is one of the most sensitive and valuable pieces of personal information Google collects, and there are many reasons why consumers opt out of tracking.”
Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problem several years ago.
“Consistent with the improvements we have made in recent years, we have resolved this investigation, which was based on an outdated product policy that we changed many years ago,” company spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement.
The AP reports that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store location data even if you use privacy settings that prevent Google from doing so.
Computer science researchers at Princeton University have confirmed these findings at the request of the AP.
Storing such data poses a privacy risk, and police use it to locate suspects.
The AP said in 2018 that privacy concerns around location tracking were affecting the nearly two billion users of devices running Google’s Android operating software and the hundreds of millions of iPhone users worldwide who depend on Google for maps and search. I reported that it affected users.
The attorney general who investigated Google said location information is a key part of the company’s digital advertising business and is the most sensitive and valuable personal data the company collects.
Even a little bit of location data can reveal a person’s identity and daily routine, they say.
Google uses location information to target consumers in customer-driven ads, state officials said.
The attorney general said Google has been misleading users about its location tracking practices since at least 2014, violating state consumer protection laws.
As part of the settlement, Google will maintain webpages that show more information and provide users with information about the data Google collects when users turn their location account settings on or off. We also agreed to make these practices more transparent to users, such as