Attorney General John M. Formella today announced that he has joined a group of 5 attorneys general in reaching a $9 million settlement with Google for misleading consumers about its location tracking practices. New Hampshire is expected to receive $1.8 million from the settlement.
Today’s settlement resolves allegations by the attorneys general that Google violated state consumer protection laws by misleading consumers about its location tracking practices since at least 2014. Specifically, Google caused users to be confused about two account settings that control data collection of the users’ location – “Location History” and “Web & App Activity” – 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.
“Transparency regarding the way that large technology companies like Google track, share, and use the personal data of its users is critically important,” said Attorney General Formella. “Consumers need to be able to understand how their location data will be used before making the conscious decision to utilize services and products. This settlement will go a long way to ensure that Granite Staters have transparency and control over how Google tracks and maintains their location data.”
Today’s settlement requires Google to be more transparent with consumers about its practices, including by:
- Showing additional information to users whenever they turn a location-related account setting “on” or “off”.
- Making key information about location tracking unavoidable (i.e., not hidden).
- Giving users detailed information about the types of location data Google collects and how it’s used at an enhanced “Location Technologies” webpage.
- Giving users the ability to disable a location-related account setting and delete the location information stored by that setting without needing to navigate to separate web pages; and
- Automatically deleting location information collected through Web and App Activity after 30 days.
The settlement also limits Google’s use and retention of certain types of location information and requires Google account controls to be more user-friendly.