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In the Largest Privacy Settlement to Date, Google Will Pay $391 Million
The internet giant Google has reached a settlement with forty states in the United States over the collection of location data from users. This settlement is for $391.5 million, which is the largest money the company has ever paid out in response to a privacy complaint.
The settlement was reached as a result of charges brought forth by the states that Google had continued to gather location data via a number of its mobile apps, despite the fact that users had previously exercised their right to opt-out of having their whereabouts recorded.
One of the most valuable pieces of data that the search giant collects in order to target its advertising has been brought to the forefront as a result of the inquiry that was conducted by the states, which was led by Oregon and Nebraska.
According to the allegations, Google provided separate settings to control location data. As a result, even after users turned off their “location history,” a separate setting called Web and App Activity collected the data by default. This occurred even after Google offered separate settings to control location data. The charges encompassed the years 2014 through 2020.
Reason #27 that @SenSchumer needs to introduce the bipartisan antitrust legislation. There is no ability to exercise with your feet/wallet/choice as it relates to a gatekeeper like Google when it repeatedly abuses public trust on consumer privacy. https://t.co/jtMaus1LtN
— Jason Kint (@jason_kint) November 14, 2022
A representative from Google issued the following statement in response to the investigation: “Consistent with the changes we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on obsolete product policies that we modified years ago.”
The firm also detailed in a blog post a number of recent modifications that, according to the corporation, had provided customers with increased control over the location data. According to the report, other upcoming changes would include a streamlined privacy “center” as well as capabilities that make it simpler to remove location data.
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However, according to experts on privacy, very few users actually look at the information that Google and other internet companies offer about their personal data, and even fewer users actually use the tools that are available to limit the amount of information that is collected about them, so the impact of these tools is minimal.
In contrast, Apple made a significant modification to its privacy settings last year, which had a profound effect on the internet advertising business. The company prompted consumers with prompts that made it simple to prevent personal data from being collected by mobile apps.
Google gave you the impression that when you turned off location tracking, they weren’t tracking you anymore. But they were. That was wrong so 40 AGs, including me, investigated. This is the biggest-ever settlement AGs have reached related to privacy.https://t.co/myCkKA9Ocq
— Attorney General Keith Ellison (@AGEllison) November 14, 2022
One of the previous highest penalties Google has faced on privacy matters was a fine of 170 million dollars that was levied by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2019 for a failure to adhere to online protections for children.
This fine was the previous highest penalty Google has faced on privacy matters. It also settled with French authorities for €150 million earlier this year, which was about $170 million at the time, in response to a complaint that it made it simpler for users to accept cookies that track their online behavior than to reject them.
However, in light of the incident involving Cambridge Analytica that broke out three years ago, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a record penalty of $5 billion against Facebook. Those fines pale in contrast to that amount.
It is possible that the total cost will exceed $500 million if other penalties or settlements are issued against Google in relation to the location data issue. Google is still facing additional accusations from other states in the United States.