Google settles with Missouri, 39 other states over location tracking practices

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Multinational tech giant Google has agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states over its location tracking practices.

It’s the largest multistate attorney general privacy settlement in United States history.

Missouri’s share of the settlement is nearly $8.7 million.

The 40 attorneys general accused Google of misleading consumers by secretly tracking users and collecting their personal and behavioral data. Google would then use that data for ad targeting on behalf of its advertising clients. More than 81% of Google’s annual revenue is generating from ads.

A 2018 Associated Press article revealed Google “tracks your movements, like it or not.” Users have the option to turn off their Location History in their account settings, but Web & App Activity would be automatically be on when users set up a Google account. This includes all Android phone users.

Google was found to have violated state consumer protection laws regarding location tracking since at least 2014.

Besides financial compensation, Google must:

  • Show additional information to users whenever they turn a location-related account setting “on” or “off”;
  • Make key information about location tracking unavoidable for users (i.e., not hidden); and
  • Give users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how it’s used at an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage.

The settlement also limits Google’s use and storage of certain consumer location information. Google must also make its account controls more user-friendly so consumers can be better informed about their data.

Joining Missouri in the settlement are Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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