Google is paying nearly $400 million to Android and iPhone users over massive privacy breach

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Google is paying nearly $400 million to Android and iPhone users over massive privacy breach

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Google has agreed to a $391.5 million settlement which has been hailed 'a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology'.

As a result of an investigation into a massive privacy breach which affected both Android and iPhone users alike, Google has agreed to a settlement with 40 states in the US.

The settlement was announced on Monday, 14 November and is considered the biggest privacy settlement which has ever happened across multiple states in the history of the country.

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The investigation looked into allegations that Google continued to track some users' location data despite the users having turned their tracking off.

Claims of the privacy breach first arose in an article by the Associated Press in 2018.

The allegations were later consolidated by Princeton computer-science researchers as affecting over two billion Android users and hundreds of millions of iPhone users worldwide who use Google.

Google faced backlash for disregarding and risking those users' privacy - location data able to reveal a person's routines or identity according to research.

The allegations of Google's location privacy breach first arose in 2018. Credit: rfranca / Alamy Stock Photo
The allegations of Google's location privacy breach first arose in 2018. Credit: rfranca / Alamy Stock Photo

The collection of such sensitive data is said to have led to Google making a lot of money.

According to state officials, having more location data helps the technology company target consumers with more specific advertisements.

Financial filings revealed 80 percent of the company's $257 billion (£215 billion) revenue last year came from advertising.

According to state officials, the breach likely made Google a lot of money. Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Alamy Stock Photo
According to state officials, the breach likely made Google a lot of money. Credit: Kristoffer Tripplaar/ Alamy Stock Photo

Despite the allegations only coming out in 2018, Google was accused by the attorneys general of having not been honest about how it tracks users' locations since 2014.

Google was subsequently accused of violating state consumer protection laws, with lawsuits filed by multiple states including Texas and Washington - following shortly after the technology company settled its case with Arizona for $80 million (£67 billion) last month.

As well as agreeing to a $391.5 million (£330 million) settlement pay-out with 40 states in the US, Google has vowed to be more transparent with its users when it comes to tracking location data and making it more straight-forward for users to opt in or out.

Google has since agreed to a $391.5 million (£330 million) settlement payout with 40 states in the US. Credit: Ian G Dagnall/ Alamy Stock Photo
Google has since agreed to a $391.5 million (£330 million) settlement payout with 40 states in the US. Credit: Ian G Dagnall/ Alamy Stock Photo

Attorney General of Connecticut, William Tong, released a statement in response to the settlement.

It reads: "This $391.5m settlement is a historic win for consumers in an era of increasing reliance on technology.

"Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt-out of tracking."

Attorney General of Connecticut William Tong has released a statement in response to the settlement. Credit: @AGWilliamTong/ Twitter
Attorney General of Connecticut William Tong has released a statement in response to the settlement. Credit: @AGWilliamTong/ Twitter

A spokesperson for Google, named Jose Castaneda, said: "Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation, which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago."

UNILAD has contacted Google for comment.

Topics: Technology, Google, iPhone, Money, Business

Poppy Bilderbeck

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