TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Florida would be taking home part of a $390 million settlement, after 40 states sued Google over its location tracking and cybersecurity practices.
Moody said Florida would get nearly $27 million from the $390 million overall, in a lawsuit dating back to 2018. The suit itself was opened after multiple states began an investigation of how the tech giant violated state laws.
Reporting by the Associated Press “revealed the company records users’ movements, even when explicitly told not to.” The AP found that location history was set to remain off by default, but web activity was set to be tracked automatically when users set up their accounts. The 40 attorneys general found that Google mislead consumers about the tracking practices, and “caused confusion” among customers who thought tracking was limited when location history was turned off.
Now, having reached a settlement, Florida and 39 other states will each receive portions of the nearly $400 million payout. Florida, however, will receive $26,827,058.57.
The funding may be used for “attorneys’ fees, and other costs of investigation and litigation, or be placed in, or applied to, any consumer protection enforcement or revolving fund, future consumer protection or privacy enforcement or litigation, consumer education or for other uses permitted by state law,” at Moody’s discretion, according to the settlement.
“Big Tech is watching us, but Silicon Valley needs to know that we are watching them too, and if they violate our consumer protection laws, we will take strong action to protect our citizens,” Moody said about the settlement. “This is a historic case for the privacy of Americans and the protection of consumers nationwide, and I am proud our office helped lead this massive, nationwide investigation.”
Despite the settlement, the language of the agreement states that Google does not admit to any liability or violations of law at levels ranging from local up to federal. In addition to the settlement funds, Google is required to put “limits on the usage and storage of certain types of location information and requires account controls to be more user-friendly.”
The assurance by Google, meaning the changes of policy, are required to be in effect for five years from the implementation date.
In addition to changes in representation to users, Google must also “prepare a report detailing” their compliance, as well as produce annual compliance reports for four years, beginning after the first year of the new policies being in place.