The Google offices in Chelsea, New York City, on Aug. 5, 2021. (Quentin Young/Colorado Newsline)
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and 38 other attorneys general reached a $391.5 million settlement with Google over its location tracking practices, their offices announced Monday.
Colorado will receive $8.3 million from the settlement.
“Google told consumers they could stop sharing their location information if they disabled Location History on their phones. Contrary to its promise to consumers, the company continued to separately track and collect location data,” Weiser said in a statement.
The total nationwide settlement for $391.5 million is “the largest multistate attorney general privacy settlement in the history of the U.S.,” according to Weiser’s office.
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Iowa will receive nearly $6.2 million from the settlement, according to a news release. Additionally, the agreement requires Google to provide more transparency measures for location tracking services, including showing more information to users when they turn a location-related account setting on or off, and creating an “Location Technologies” webpage explaining the types of location data Google collects and how that information is used.
Miller said the settlement is an important step toward ensuring tech companies follow state and federal privacy laws.
“When consumers make the decision to not share location data on their devices, they should be able to trust that a company will no longer track their every move,” Miller said. “That wasn’t the case when it comes to Google’s tracking practices.”
The settlement came after the attorneys general opened an investigation into Google in light of a 2018 Associated Press report which found Google services and Android phones and iPhones store location data even when users “explicitly tell it not to.” In the investigation, the AGs found that Google has misled consumers about its location tracking practices since at least 2014, violating state consumer protection laws.
In addition to making more information on location tracking easily accessible, the settlement sets limits for Google’s use and storage of certain types of location information, according to the news release.
This is one of multiple disputes Weiser, Miller and other AGs have been involved in with Google. In 2020 and 2021, the Democratic attorneys general joined lawsuits alleging Google was involved in anticompetitive practices, maintaining monopolies in search engines and their advertising markets, as well as its App Store and Google Billing.
Quentin Young contributed to this report.
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