Google To Cough Up $392M For User Privacy Breach

Google To Cough Up $392M For User Privacy Breach
  • Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today, along with 39 other state attorneys general, announced a landmark $391.5 million settlement with Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL Google over its location tracking practices.
  • Google misled its users into thinking they had turned off location tracking in their account settings when, in fact, Google continued to collect their location information
  • Google has agreed to improve its location tracking disclosures significantly and user controls starting in 2023.
  • A 2018 Associated Press article that revealed Google “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to” triggered the investigation.
  • The article focused on two Google account settings: Location History and Web & App Activity. Location History is “off” unless a user turns on the setting. 
  • Still, Web & App Activity, a separate account setting, is automatic “on” when users set up a Google account, including all Android users.
  • The attorneys general found that Google violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location-tracking practices since at least 2014. 
  • Specifically, by adjusting their account and device settings, Google confused its users about the extent to which they could limit Google’s location tracking.
  • Google looks to “provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow.” 
  • Google also plans to add additional disclosures to its Activity controls and Data & Privacy pages.
  • The Federal Trade Commission weighed a rule that would expand online privacy protections by targeting online surveillance and lax data-security practices by technology companies, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Congress also explored bipartisan legislation to give Americans more control over their data. 
  • Google held $116.3 billion in cash and equivalents as of September 30.
  • Image by Deepanker Verma from Pixabay
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