Attorney General O’Connor Announces Historic Google Settlement Over Location Tracking Practices
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General John O’Connor today announced that Oklahoma, along with 39 other states, has reached a $391.5 million multistate settlement with Google over its location tracking practices. The attorneys general opened the Google investigation following a 2018 Associated Press article that revealed Google “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.”
This is the largest multistate Attorney General privacy settlement in the history of the United States. Oklahoma will receive $6,840,893.67 from the settlement.
“Google denied consumers the ability to choose whether it could track their sensitive location data to make a profit. This type of data is extremely personal for consumers,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “I am glad Oklahoma will benefit from this historic settlement which proves that no entity, not even big tech companies, is above the law.”
Location data is a key part of Google’s digital advertising business. Google uses the personal and behavioral data it collects to build detailed user profiles and target ads on behalf of its advertising customers. Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects. Even a limited amount of location data can expose a person’s identity and routines and can be used to infer personal details.
As detailed in the settlement, the attorneys general found that Google violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location tracking practices since at least 2014. Specifically, Google caused users to be confused about the scope of the Location History setting and the extent to which consumers who use Google products and services could limit Google’s location tracking.
The settlement requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about its practices. 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 types of location information and requires Google account controls to be more user-friendly.
The attorneys general of Oregon and Nebraska led the settlement negotiations, assisted by Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. 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.