Region & State

Arkansas to receive $11.4M in Google settlement


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Monday announced that 40 states have reached a $391.5 million multistate settlement with Google over its location tracking practices relating to Google account settings. Arkansas will receive $11,368,923.47 from the settlement. This is the largest multistate Attorney General privacy settlement in U.S history; Arkansas serves on the executive committee.

“We expect web browsers, like Google, to protect the privacy of its users rather than to exploit their information,” said Rutledge. “This historic settlement warns companies that they must clearly disclose when they are tracking location information and provide consumers with easily accessible settings to block the tracking of their location information.”

Location data is a key part of Google’s digital advertising business. Google uses personal and behavioral data it collects to build detailed user profiles and target ads on behalf of its advertising customers. Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects. Even a limited amount of location data can expose a person’s identity and routines and can be used to infer personal details.

The attorneys general opened the Google investigation following a 2018 Associated Press article that revealed Google “records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.” The article focused on two Google account settings: Location History and Web & App Activity. Location History is “off” unless a user turns on the setting, but Web & App Activity, a separate account setting, is automatically “on” when users set up a Google account, including all Android phone users.  As detailed in the settlement, the attorneys general found that Google violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location tracking practices since at least 2014. Specifically, Google misled consumers about the scope of the Location History setting, the fact that the Web & App Activity setting existed and also collected location information, and the extent to which consumers who use Google products and services could limit Google’s location tracking by adjusting their account and device settings.

The settlement requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about its practices. Google must:

• Show additional information to users whenever they turn a location-related account setting “on” or “off”;

• Make key information about location tracking unavoidable for users (i.e., not hidden); and

• Give users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how it’s used at an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage.

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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  1. Google’s last yearly report stated $282 billion in revenue. This $392 million settlement is less than 0.14% of googles income for just one year, and far less than that over the course Google has been violating our rights. In other words, we’ve taken a grain of sand out of Googles sandbox. Yeah, that’ll teach them. You can bet your share of this settlement, less than $4 for each Arkansan, by the way, and just a mere $85,284 for Clark County as a whole, Google will continue doing what they’re doing and profiting off our personal, private data. I’m planning on spending that $4 as soon as I get the check. That, I’m sure, will help our local economy greatly in this rescission we seem to be heading into.

    Oh, hang on. We’ve yet to have been told where that money is going. I’m sure we Arkansans won’t see a penny of that settlement, it’s destined for our legislatures to dole out to their loyal friends and businesses, where, I’m sure, none of it will end up in their personal coffers. We mere citizens will continue to be tracked and targeted by Google, and have our data sold off to advertisers, with little more than a slight change in wording of the Terms Of Use we all surely read in its entirety with each and every change.

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