State attorneys general said their $391.5 million settlement with Google over location-tracking practices is the largest U.S. internet privacy settlement in history.
Under the agreement Google must make its location-tracking practices clearer to users. Connecticut was one of 40 states to join the settlement. It will receive $6.5 million from the settlement.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said it was a “historic win for consumers.”
Tong said location data is the “most sensitive and valuable personal information that Google collects.”
“Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law,” Tong said. “People deserve to have greater control over—and understanding of—how their data is being used.”
In May, Connecticut passed the Connecticut Data Privacy Act, which requires companies to be transparent about how they use and secure data, as well as obtain consumer consent before collecting certain categories of sensitive information—including precise location data.
“Consumers have a right to know if and how their data is being used,” DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said. “Companies like Google have a duty to be transparent in their data collection and advertising practices, and clearly give consumers the option to opt out of data sharing, including location tracking.”
Connecticut officials said even a limited amount of location data can expose a person’s identity and routines and be used to infer personal details. Google uses this data to build detailed user profiles and target ads to consumers on behalf of its advertising customers.
The attorneys general opened an investigation into Google following a 2018 Associate Press article revealing that the Internet search giant “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.”
As part of the settlement, Google must be more transparent with consumers about its location tracking practices. It must show additional information to users whenever they turn on location-related account settings and make key information about tracking unavoidable. It must also maintain a dedicated webpage that provides users detailed information about the types of location data that Google collects and it limits storage of certain types of location data.
Google said its been making changes to its location-tracking.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” a Google spokesman said.