HISTORIC: 40 States Smack Down Google with $392 Million Privacy Settlement, Largest ‘Ever’

November 18th, 2022 1:47 PM

After reportedly tricking users on their privacy settings, Google agreed to pay a record $391.5 million privacy settlement resulting from a lawsuit filed by 40 states against the tech giant.

Google After “charges that [Google] misled users into thinking they had turned off location tracking in their account settings,” the company “continued collecting that information,” The New York Times revealed in a Nov. 14 article.

The cost of Google’s alleged mishandling of user data is huge. It will have to pay out almost $392 million total to the 40 states involved in the lawsuit, making it “the largest attorney general-led consumer privacy settlement ever,” according to a Nov. 14 press release by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who co-led the lawsuit. 

The press statement explained that tracking location data is big business for the tech giant. “Google uses the personal and behavioral data it collects to build detailed user profiles and target ads.” 

Rosenblum slammed the search engine and data-collection behemoth on Twitter: “For years Google has prioritized profit over their users’ privacy. They have been crafty and deceptive.” [Emphasis added]. 

She added in another tweet: “Until we have comprehensive privacy laws, companies will continue to compile large amounts of our personal data for marketing purposes with few controls.”  [Emphasis added]. 

Google’s shady treatment of its roughly 4.3 billion daily users and their data is nothing new. Rosenblum credited a 2018 bombshell story by The Associated Press for spurring the investigation. The AP’s article was headlined, “Google tracks your movements, like it or not.” The AP exposed Google for finding clever ways to store user location data even if people set their privacy settings to “prevent Google” from doing just that. 

Four years later, it seems Google hasn’t changed. Time will tell if the nearly $392 million settlement will encourage Google to respect user privacy, or if it will be just another slap on the wrist for a company worth almost $70 billion

Google also faces legal challenges on multiple fronts. Last month, Google settled another privacy lawsuit, with Arizona, for $85 million. A third lawsuit, reportedly led by Washington, D.C., Texas, Washington state and Indiana, is ongoing.  

Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint released a “brutal set of quotes” allegedly from Google executives and recently unsealed.

“‘If people were the deciders, they wouldn’t take the deal, but they are not the deciders,’” reads one quote. Another statement was even more smug: “‘At Google, we still seem to believe in that fantasy that users agreed to this.’” 

A third statement gave a possible profit motivation for ignoring the wishes of Google users. “‘Consent is no longer consent if you think of ads as a product.’”

The 40-state legal battle against Google included a few conservative powerhouses: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact ABC News (818) 460-7477, CBS News (212) 975-3247 and NBC News (212) 664-6192, and demand they report on Google flagrantly abusing the privacy data of its users for profit