IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Google agrees record $391.5m settlement in US digital tracking case

The sum represents the largest settlement ever paid in a US digital privacy case which dates back to 2018

Google has agreed to pay $391.5 million to settle a case in which 40 US states alleged that it violated laws protecting people from being tracked electronically.

The huge sum marks the largest digital privacy settlement in US history and relates to allegations brought against the company in 2018 after it was discovered that users were being tracked even after disabling its location history feature.

Users of both Android smartphones and iPhones were found to have their location data stored on their devices even when they enabled a privacy setting that supposedly prevented such data from being stored.

The original 2018 report from the Associated Press revealed that more than 2 billion Android users were affected in the case and hundreds of thousands more iPhone users too.

“This $391.5m settlement is a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology,” said William Tong, attorney general for Connecticut to the Associated Press via the Guardian.

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt-out of tracking.”

Related Resource

A strategic guide for controlling and securing your data

Forrester's data security control framework

Whitepaper cover with black header banner, title, and contributor's photo

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said the company fixed the issue “years ago” and the Mountain View-based tech giant also released a blog post on Monday highlighting some of the measures brought in to promote privacy and transparency regarding location data.

The launch of auto-delete controls, incognito mode, and ‘your data’ transparency tools - available in Google Maps and Google Search - were among the main measures Google identified.

“Today’s settlement is another step along the path of giving more meaningful choices and minimising data collection while providing more helpful services,” the blog post read, written by Marlo McGriff and David Monsees - leadership staff on the product teams for Geo and Search respectively.

Google was ordered to pay $971,000 in fees relating to a separate privacy case earlier this year after it failed to disclose key pieces of evidence.

Regarding a $5 billion lawsuit from 2020, in which the company allegedly tracked users while they browsed in incognito mode, Google was fined for failing to identify witnesses in a timely fashion, and identify additional documents and data sources for the case.

Last year the company was also accused of violating the digital privacy of more than 300 million Europeans in additional allegations of illegal tracking

It was claimed by Max Schrems, privacy activist and lawyer at NOYB, that Google’s use of Android Advertising Identifiers contravened the 2002 ePrivacy Directive. 

The French data protection regulator, CNIL, was notified but no formal punishment has yet been issued as a result.

Featured Resources

Accelerating healthcare transformation through patient-centred medtech solutions

Seize the digital transformation opportunities to streamline patient care and optimise patient outcomes

Free Download

Big payoffs from big bets in AI-powered automation

Automation disruptors realise 1.5 x higher revenue growth

Free Download

Hyperscaler cloud service providers top ten

Why it's important for companies to consider hyperscaler cloud service providers, and why they matter

Free Download

Strategic app modernisation drives digital transformation

Address business needs both now and in the future

Free Download

Recommended

Google Ad Manager knocked offline for more than three hours
Network & Internet

Google Ad Manager knocked offline for more than three hours

9 Dec 2022
Google brings no-code machine learning to Sheets with SimpleML
Business strategy

Google brings no-code machine learning to Sheets with SimpleML

8 Dec 2022
How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

30 Nov 2022
Android vs iOS: Which mobile OS is right for you?
Mobile

Android vs iOS: Which mobile OS is right for you?

30 Nov 2022

Most Popular

Empowering employees to truly work anywhere
Sponsored

Empowering employees to truly work anywhere

22 Nov 2022
Unpatched Exchange servers could be behind Rackspace's ransomware attack
zero-day exploit

Unpatched Exchange servers could be behind Rackspace's ransomware attack

7 Dec 2022
What we can learn from the supercomputer revolution
Sponsored

What we can learn from the supercomputer revolution

1 Dec 2022