HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania and 39 other states have reached a settlement with Google over its location tracking practices.
According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the $391.5 million settlement agreement is the largest multistate Attorney General privacy settlement in the history of the United States.
Pennsylvania is set to receive $19,670,434 from this settlement.
“Right now, consumers are beholden to Google’s promise that Big Tech knows what’s best for users’ data,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Google’s impact on the lives of everyday Americans is pervasive— they have a responsibility to consumers to ensure that the data they collect is only obtained with express consent from the user. My office will continue to fight to ensure consumers can control when and how their personal data is collected.”
According to the Attorney General’s office, Google uses the personal and behavioral data it collects to build detailed user profiles and target ads on behalf of its advertising customers.
As detailed in the settlement, the attorneys general said their investigation found Google “violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location tracking practices in various ways since at least 2014.”
Specifically, Google caused users to be confused about the scope of the Location History setting, the fact that the Web & App Activity setting existed and also collected location information, and the extent to which consumers who use Google products and services could limit Google’s location tracking by adjusting their account and device settings.
Under the settlement, the Attorney General’s office says Google has agreed to a series of provisions designed to give consumers more transparency into Google’s practices, including:
- Requiring Google to show additional information to users whenever they turn an account setting “on” or “off”;
- Making key information about location tracking unavoidable for users (i.e., not hidden); and
- Creating an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage where users can get detailed information about the type(s) of location data Google collects and how it’s used.
The settlement also puts limits on Google’s use and storage of certain types of location information and requires Google account controls to be more user-friendly.
Pennsylvania served on the Executive Committee of the Multistate investigation, which was handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General Timothy R. Murphy, along with Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee and assisted Oregon and Nebraska who led the settlement negotiations.. The final settlement was also joined by Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.