For years, Google continued to collect the whereabouts of those affected, even though users had deactivated their mobile phone’s whereabouts storage (“location history”). For advertising purposes, on Android phones and iPhones with Google Maps. Journalist Ryan Nakashima of the Associated Press (AP) revealed this in 2018. Some US states have sued Google. A group of 40 states opted for extrajudicial negotiations. The result is a settlement amount of USD 391.5 million (approximately EUR 378 million).
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson (Republican) and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (Democrat) led the investigation and hearings following the AP report. They describe the comparison as “historic”. It is the “largest consumer privacy settlement led by U.S. Attorneys General in history.” It will be, especially since the United States of America does not yet have a comprehensive data protection law. There are only special laws for data of minors and health data.
$400 million, distributed among 40 states, is a modest consolation. 2020 Arizona sued (Arizona v Google, Arizona Sup. Ct., Az. CV2020-006219) and settled the privacy case against Google for $85 million last month. That’s almost $12 per capita. The big 40-state comparison is now much cheaper for Google.
$1.40 per person
Oregon says it will get $14.8 million, Nebraska will get $11.9 million. This equates to just under $3.50 or $5.95 per resident. However, these amounts are only so “high” because Nebraska and Oregon are being compensated for the costs of the investigation and negotiations. For example, Maryland receives only $1.40 per capita.
In the settlement, Google commits to displaying additional information when enabling or disabling location history, not hiding important information and at least showing it to users, and generally publishing more information about the types of whereabouts data it collects . The root of the problem is that just disabling location history wasn’t enough. Users should also turn off “Web & App Activity”. Because with this data, Google can also compile valuable movement profiles.
Indiana, Texas, Washington, and the metropolitan district of the District of Columbia are not included in the comparison group. These four filed lawsuits against Google earlier this year.