Forty US states have reached a nearly USD 400 million settlement with Google over misleading of consumers about the tech company’s location tracking practices, the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Monday.
“Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that Michigan, along with 39 other attorneys general, has reached a USD 391.5 million multistate settlement with Google over its location tracking practices relating to Google Account settings. This is the largest multistate Attorney General privacy settlement in the history of the US,” Nessel’s office said in a statement.
Nessel said Google makes the majority of its revenue from using the personal data of those who search in its browsers and use its apps.
“The company’s online reach enables it to target consumers without the consumer’s knowledge or permission. However, the transparency requirements of this settlement will ensure that Google not only makes users aware of how their location data is being used, but also how to change their account settings if they wish to disable location-related account settings, delete the data collected and set data retention limits,” she added.
In the past few years, Google, Amazon, and others US tech giants have faced strict rules in a number of countries globally. Some of them have been subjected to hefty fines over privacy violations.
The group of attorneys general launched an investigation into Google following a 2018 report revealing that the company continued tracking users’ locations even if they seemingly chose to turn off the feature.
The probe found that Google had violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about their location tracking practices since at least 2014.
The settlement requires that Google be more transparent with consumers about its practices by showing additional information to users when they choose to adjust location-related account settings, making key information about location tracking unavoidable for users, and giving users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects.
The settlement also limits Google’s use and storage of certain kinds of location information.
Oregon and Nebraska attorney generals led the settlement negotiations and were joined by states including Alabama, New York, Ohio and Virginia.
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