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Illinois to receive $19.5 million in $329 million Google location tracking settlement | Main stories

(NBC Chicago) Google has agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states over investigations into how the company tracked users’ locations, state attorneys general announced Monday, calling it the largest multi-state privacy settlement in U.S. history.

The investigation by the states, which officials said was initiated by the 2018 Associated Press storyfound that Google continued to track people’s location data even after they opted out of such tracking.

“Consumers were misled by Google about when their location was tracked and how that information was used,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement. “With the proliferation of smart devices collecting ever more data about their users, today’s announcement underscores the need for updated privacy laws that more effectively protect consumers.”

According to Raul, Illinois will receive more than $19.5 million as part of the agreement.

The AP reported that many Google services on Android and iPhone devices store data about your location, even if you use privacy settings that say it will prevent Google from doing so. Computer science researchers at Princeton confirmed those findings when asked by the AP.

Storing such data threatens privacy and has been used by police to locate suspects.

In 2018, the AP reported that the privacy issue with location tracking affected about two billion users of devices running Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of iPhone users worldwide, who rely on Google for maps and search.

The attorneys general investigating Google said a key part of the company’s digital advertising business is location data, which they called the most sensitive and valuable personal data the company collects. Even a small amount of location data can reveal a person’s personality and routine, they said.

Google uses location information to target its customers’ ads to consumers, state officials said.

The attorneys general said Google has been misleading users about its location-tracking practices since at least 2014, in violation of state consumer protection laws.

As part of the settlement, Google also agreed to make the practice more transparent for users, including showing them more information when turning location account settings on and off and maintaining a web page that provides users with information about the data Google collects.

Other states participating in the settlement include Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.


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