NEW YORK (NEWS10) — On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that a multistate coalition secured $391.5 million in a settlement with Google over location data tracking. New York is expected to receive more than $20 million from the agreement.
“Big tech companies should not collect consumers’ data without their awareness or consent,” said Attorney General James. “Google quietly tracked its users to turn a profit and today they are being held accountable. Every individual should be able to make their own decisions about their data and how it is being used. We will continue to hold companies that violate the law accountable and protect consumers from companies that put profits over people.”
Attorney generals across the United States opened a joint investigation in after the Associated Press released an article in 2018 that revealed Google “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to”. According to the article, Google has two account settings that collect location information: Location Setting and Web & App Activity.
In addition to the $391.5 million multistate settlement, Google will be required to be more transparent about its practices. The settlement will also limit Google’s use and storage of certain types of location information.
Location Setting is “off” unless the user turns on the setting, but the Web & App Activity is automatically turned “on” when a user creates a Google account. Attorney generals argued that this violated state consumer protection laws because Google mislead consumers about their location tracking practices. Google was able to still collect location information through the Web & App Activity despite customers turning off their location settings.