Attorney General Stein reaches nearly $400 million multistate settlement with Google

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) – North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced a $391.5 million multistate settlement with Google on Monday over the company’s location tracking practices with Google Account settings.

Stein said the attorneys general, of which there were another 39, found that Google violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location-tracking practices since at least 2014.

WITN is told that North Carolina’s share of the settlement is $17,621,737.90.

Stein’s office said this settlement is the largest multistate attorney general privacy settlement in U.S. history.

“People should have the ability to decide how much of their information they want to share with tech companies,” Stein said. “Google took that ability away from people unlawfully and gained access to North Carolinians’ personal data and location information. I’m pleased that Google will be more transparent with its users moving forward, and I’m proud to have helped lead negotiations of this settlement.”

Stein said the attorneys general opened the investigation into Google after a 2018 Associated Press article revealed that Google “records your movement even when you explicitly tell it not to.” The article focused on Location History and Web & App Activity.

WITN is told that the settlement requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about its practices by:

  • Showing additional information to users whenever they turn a location-related account setting “on” or “off”
  • Making key information about location tracking unavoidable for users (i.e., not hidden)
  • Giving users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how it’s used at an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage

Stein said 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.

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