Alphabet’s tech giant Google has agreed to pay a huge $391.5 million settlement over a years-long location tracking scandal. The consumer protection case finished on Monday, four years after the Associated Press article that kicked everything off.
The lawsuit alleged that Google tracked users’ location data without consent. Users who opted out of the company collecting location history were still tracked by the company.
After losing the case, the tech giant’s massive settlement payout is record-breaking. This case marks the largest privacy settlement in the history of the United States, a huge win for consumer protection.
“This $391.5m settlement is a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology,” said attorney general for Connecticut, William Tong. “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.”
The original AP article that cited Google’s misdoings revealed that the tech giant tracked users across a litany of devices. However, after being called out four years ago, the company claims that it has remedied the services that kept tracking users.
Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said: “consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago.”
The tech giant’s scandalous location tracking affected an estimated two billion devices back in 2018. Across iPhone and Android devices, the company was able to use location data to push adverts to users more effectively.
Following the settlement, the company released a blog post discussing the situation. Director of Product Mario McGriff, and Product Lead David Monsees stated that this case is the start of more privacy options in the future.
“Today’s settlement is another step along the path of giving more meaningful choices and minimizing data collection while providing more helpful services,” the two wrote.
Civilian privacy in the tech sector is still a huge issue. With companies like Clearview taking images from social media to build facial recognition databases, we’re still far from safe when it comes to fighting privacy issues.