Google faces potential class action, FTC penalties for ‘surreptitious’ location tracking
A California resident named Napoleon Patacsil has filed a lawsuit in opposition to Google in federal court docket (Patacsil v. Google, Inc.) in quest of elegance motion standing. The swimsuit alleges non-public accidents within the type of quite a lot of California privateness violations stemming from “surreptitious tracking” of consumer location.
The swimsuit used to be filed after an AP article known the truth that Google location capture still occurs on cellular gadgets even if Location Historical past is became off. Following the document, Google changed help language to elucidate that location remains to be used, although Location Historical past is disabled.
The brand new language reads:
This [Location History] surroundings does no longer impact different location services and products for your tool, like Google Location Products and services and In finding My Tool. Some location knowledge is also stored as a part of your task on different services and products, like Seek and Maps. Whilst you flip off Location Historical past to your Google Account, it’s off for all gadgets related to that Google Account.
The litigation used to be first reported by means of Reuters.
There are a variety of privacy-related claims within the lawsuit, considered one of which is that Google’s behavior violates California penal code segment 637.7, which prohibits the usage of “an digital monitoring tool to decide the site or motion of an individual.” There are two exceptions: for consumer consent and for legitimate makes use of by means of regulation enforcement (e.g., with a seek warrant).
Litigation company Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein is it seems that representing plaintiff Patacsil. Must the swimsuit reach elegance motion standing, it will make the case very pricey for Google. Then again, Google’s legal responsibility isn’t sure, nor are damages.
Until equipped by means of statute, the damages side of the case is difficult for the plaintiff to end up. Google may just and most probably would argue that location services and products make telephones carry out higher and that he and any doable elegance participants can’t display they had been harmed by means of Google Seek or Maps’ use of location.
In parallel with the litigation, the Digital Privateness Knowledge Middle (EPIC) despatched a letter to the Federal Business Fee claiming that the information within the AP article represent a contravention of a consent decree (.pdf) the corporate agreed to in 2011. EPIC instructed the FTC:
[Location tracking] obviously violates Google’s 2011 agreement with the FTC. Google isn’t approved to trace customers after they have got made transparent of their privateness settings that they don’t need to be tracked. This privateness violation impacts all Android customers and iPhone customers who use Google Maps or seek. EPIC urges the Fee to put in force its Order and cling Google responsible.
The consent decree used to be tied to Google’s ill-fated Buzz social network (understand that?). The declare if that’s the case used to be that Google used “misleading ways and violated its personal privateness guarantees to shoppers.” That is what EPIC is pronouncing Google has performed within the provide case.
In my fast analysis of Google’s potential exposure over location monitoring, I had forgotten the 2011 consent decree. In some ways, that may be a larger danger than the civil litigation and may just carry vital monetary consequences in way over $41,000 for unmarried violations.
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