Florida will receive $26 million of the $400 million Google agreed to pay out in a settlement reached with attorneys general from 40 states.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the historic multistate action against Google on Monday, which followed an investigation by Moody and 39 other state attorneys general into Google’s cybersecurity disclosures and location tracking practices.
Google is required to pay $391.5 million to the states – with $26 million going to Florida – and give consumers more information and clarity when it comes to tracking practices.
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“Big tech is watching us, but Silicon Valley needs to know that we are watching them too, and if they violate our consumer protection laws, we will take strong action to protect our citizens,” Moody said in a press release. “This is a historic case for the privacy of Americans and the protection of consumers nationwide, and I am proud our office helped lead this massive, nationwide investigation.”
Google’s digital advertising business is based, in large part, on location data, which the company collects.
But that data, even just a small amount of it, cannot expose just a person’s identity, but routines of people that can also reveal more personal details.
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The multistate investigation into Google was sparked by an article from the Associated Press in 2018 that exposed the company for recording the movements of its users, despite being told not to.
The article looked at the location history, which is turned off by default, and web and app activity, which is turned on when users create a Google account – this includes all Android phone customers also.
“As detailed in the agreement, the attorneys general found that Google allegedly violated state laws by misleading consumers about location-tracking practices in various ways since at least 2014,” Moody’s press release read. “Specifically, the company cause confusion among those who thought location tracking could be limited by turning off Location History, while Web and App Activity continued to track users’ locations.”
As part of the settlement, Google agreed to move toward more transparency when it comes to the company’s practices.
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The agreement also puts limitations on how the location information could be used and how it can be stored, while making account controls more user-friendly.