Google has been named in a lawsuit of illegally tracking the movements of millions of Android phone or US iPhone smartphone users despite them turning off the “location history” in their phone settings.
The suit filed on Friday by plaintiff Napoleon Patacsil of San Diego, California, is seeking unspecified damages with class-action status for all users of smartphones who wished to not be tracked by Google, and who tried to prevent the surveillance by cutting off the feature. This is an intentional violation of California’s privacy laws, and an intrusion of privacy.
“Google expressly represented to users of its operating system and apps that the activation of certain settings will prevent the tracking of users’ geolocations,” the lawsuit read.
“This representation was false.”
A Partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, Michael Sobol is representing Patacsil, and has yet to make any comments on the matter.
The suit claims that Google illegally tracked Patacsil on not only his Android phone, but later on his iPhone as well, where he had downloaded Google apps. He said Google’s “principal goal” was to “surreptitiously monitor” phone users and let third parties have the same access.
The alleged tracking by the unit of Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc was described in an Aug. 13 Associated Press article, which said it was confirmed by computer science researchers at Princeton University, according to Reuters.
On Google’s website under the “help section”, it now reads that turning your Location History off “does not affect other location services” in phones, and reveals that some location data may be recorded through other Google services, such as Maps and the Search feature.
The page previously indicated by turning off one’s location history, places the user visited were not stored by Google.
A letter has been sent by The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a non-profit public interest group, to the US Federal Trade Commission to look into Google’s actions and whether it violated a 2011 consent order.
“Google’s subsequent changes to its policy, after it has already obtained location data on Internet users, fails to comply with the 2011 order,” EPIC quoted its letter as stating.
The case is Patacsil v Google Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-05062.
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