Connecticut and 39 other states have reached a $391.5 million settlement with Google stemming from the tech giant misleading users about their location-tracking practices, Attorney General William Tong announced today. Connecticut will receive more than $6.5 million from the settlement, which is the largest multistate privacy settlement in U.S. history.

The investigation into Google’s location-tracking practices began following a 2018 Associated Press (AP) article that revealed Google was tracking the movements of users who had used privacy settings that would prevent Google from doing so. The privacy issue affected approximately two billion users that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of iPhone users that utilize Google for its search engine or maps function, according to the AP.

“This $391.5 million settlement is a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology,” Attorney General Tong said. “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. People deserve to have greater control over—and understanding of—how their data is being used.”

Earlier this year, Connecticut became the fifth state in the country to pass comprehensive consumer privacy legislation, which will go into effect in July of 2023. The new law will require any business collecting personal data from at least 100,000 Connecticut residents, or at least 25,000 if the business makes a quarter of its gross revenue from the sale of personal data, to publicly share a privacy policy that tells consumers what data of theirs is being collected and how that data is being used.

The law also gives consumers an option to opt out of selling or sharing that data with others and requires consumers under the age of 16 to provide consent to data collection.

In addition to the $6.5 million Connecticut will receive, the settlement also requires Google to be more transparent with users about its location tracking practices. According to Attorney General Tong’s office, 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 and maintain a dedicated webpage that provides users with detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how that data is used. 

The settlement also limits Google’s use and storage of certain types of location information and requires Google to make its account controls more user-friendly.

To learn more about data privacy in Connecticut, check out CII’s full investigation here.

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Tom Hopkins wrote for CII from April 2022 to February 2023. Prior to joining CII, he worked in print, television, and as a freelance journalist.

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