The probe into how the search engine giant tracked users’ movements has been resolved with a $391.5 million settlement between Google and 40 states, state attorneys general revealed on Monday.
A 2018 Associated Press report that revealed Google kept following users’ whereabouts even after users opted out of such monitoring by turning off a feature the firm called “location history” served as the impetus for the states’ probe.
The settlement was hailed by the attorneys general as a significant victory for consumers and the largest multistate privacy settlement in American history.
It happens at a time when regulators and legislators are becoming increasingly outraged by internet companies’ invasions of privacy and surveillance practices. Women who search for the surgery or related information online may be concerned about their privacy due to the Supreme Court’s decision in June to abolish the constitutional safeguards for abortion.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Mountain View, California-based Google claimed to have solved the issues years ago.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” according to a statement from company representative Jose Castaneda.
Tech businesses can offer digital ads to marketers trying to engage with local consumers by using location monitoring. It is one more tool in Google’s arsenal for collecting data, and it contributes to the company’s parent company, Alphabet, which has a market price of $1.2 trillion and produces over $200 billion in annual ad income.
Even if users have enabled a privacy setting that states it will prohibit Google from using their location data, many Google services on Android and iPhone devices still save location data. At the request of the AP, Princeton computer scientists corroborated these findings.
Police have utilized such data storage to locate suspects, but it comes with privacy dangers.
More on this story via The Western Journal:
The attorneys general who investigated Google said a key part of the company’s digital advertising business is location data, which they called the most sensitive and valuable personal data the company collects. Even a small amount of location data can reveal a person’s identity and routines, they said.
Google uses the location information to target consumers with ads by its customers, the state officials said.
The attorneys general said Google misled users about its location-tracking practices since at least 2014, violating state consumer protection laws. CONTINUE READING…