Google Has Agreed to a $391.5 Million Settlement With 40 States
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- By Steven
- Nov 21, 2022
Google is known as one of the top tech giants that nearly everyone knows. However, over the years, the company’s breadth has led it to believe that it did not have to always follow the same rules as other companies. This behavior led to a joint lawsuit of 40 different states as investigations were able to prove that it misled many Android users between 2014 and 2018, leading to the current settlement.
What Happened That Led to the Lawsuit?
Android users have had the option to turn off location tracking for many years. Google, the maker of the Android operating system, told users that when their location tracking was turned off, there was no data being collected on their location at that time. They went so far as to infer that whenever location history was disabled, the location tracking would also be disabled. However, because that is a totally different setting within the device, it allowed the tracking to remain on and Google to collect all the data those Android users wanted to prevent from being shared.
What Information Was Viewed or Stolen?
Google had access to a lot of information because of these settings. They collected the information, stored it, and used it without permission. This information was used without anyone’s permission, leading to the largest private settlement from a company in United States history – $391.5 million.
How Did the Problem Come to Light?
It took years of investigation for the information to all come out. In the end, 40 states used their resources, found out what was going on, and made a stand to stop it. The lawsuit initially came out in 2018, and in 2022, Australia announced it fined the tech giant $60M for doing the same thing to those who use Android devices in Australia. The same thing happened in January 2022 from France, with their fine being $170M.
What Will Become of the Stolen Information?
Google now has to change its controls thanks to the 40 Attorney Generals that came together for the Android users of their respective states. They will have to make it very obvious when data is being collected and make it simple to turn off data collection on any Android device they own and use. The lawsuit settlement also limits how the company can use and/or store the data they do have, or they do collect in the future. The settlement requires full transparency with users, showing what data they want to collect and how that information could be used should the users allow it to continue.
What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?
Anyone that used Android during the years 2014 and 2020 might be able to receive a payout from this settlement if they lived in one of the 40 states that investigated these practices. Thankfully, the power of the lawsuit has led to changes that keep people's data safer. If you are worried that your data may be affected, it may be best to look into identity monitoring services. That way, you get notified any time someone uses your personally identifiable information, so you can keep track of it.