A California federal court legal action alleges that Google has been tracking smartphone users’ app activity without adequate authorization in breach of the California Consumer Privacy Act.
The legal action that was filed in the Northern District of California last Wednesday claims that Google leverage the capability of phones, along with the company’s Android operating system, to gather data on usage of non-Google apps. The class action was submitted on behalf of the owner of a Google-made Pixel phone on behalf of other consumers, alleging a violation of the California Consumer Privacy Act has taken place.
The complaint states that: “Google uses this information to obtain an unfair competitive advantage over its rivals.” it goes on to say that Google employees are monitoring Android user activity using the “lockbox” program. The aim of this is to create competitor apps to popular social media sites like ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok.
This is the latest The lawsuit adds to scrutiny Google has been facing from regulators and legislators for allegedly infringing on user privacy while edging out competitors in areas such as search and maps.
The plaintiff, Robert McCoy, stated that Google asks for “consent” during the Android setup process, but says that users are “only vaguely told that Google will collect personal data ‘to offer a more personalized experience’,” adding: “Android smartphone users… relied upon this statement when setting up their Android smartphones thinking that [they] would become more ‘personalized’ when in fact Google actually secretly pilfered their sensitive personal data without their consent.”
The suit also states that it is never”disclosed that Google actually monitors, collects, and uses sensitive personal data when Android users use non-Google apps.”
The lead plaintiff’s legal representatives, seeking to certify a class of millions of users, that seeks $5,000-a-head per breach. With a potential class in the “millions”, that’s at least $10bn.
Google have yet to comment on this potential class action but, on previous occasions, has claimed that it gather the data from users who agree to share their “usage and diagnostics” information with the group.