On August 13, 2018, the Associated Press announced the results of an investigation that uncovered Google’s practice of storing user location data obtained through Google-related applications from Android devices and iPhones even when users employed a privacy setting that specifically purported to prevent Google from doing so. This privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.
On October 19, 2018, FDAzar filed a nationwide class action lawsuit on behalf of Colorado residents and a Wyoming resident against Google and its parent company, Alphabet Inc., alleging privacy and negligence claims, including allegations under the California Invasion of Privacy Act, California’s Unfair Competition Law, California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.
You may have a claim against Google if you were a user of Google applications or services and activated certain privacy to prevent the tracking of your location data. If you are a resident of a state other than California or Colorado, Contact FDAzar Immediately.
Nature of the Claims Against Defendants
Due to the extremely private and sensitive nature of location data, Google created a setting titled “Location History” that allegedly prevented it from remembering where a user had been. Google’s support page on the subject stated: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”
However, the Associated Press investigation, corroborated by a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau, found that Google’s representation was false – even with Location History paused or turned off, Google’s apps continued to automatically store time-stamped location data without the consent of the user.
In order to prevent Google from saving their location data, users instead were required to also disable a setting in their account titled “Web and App Activity.” However, Google did not mention location data with regard to this setting and did not provide any disclosure to users that this setting also allowed their location to be tracked.
In the aftermath of the Associated Press investigation, Google subsequently changed its disclosures – in an attempt to paper over its alleged misrepresentations and omissions – regarding users’ ability to limit its collection of location data. Nevertheless, Google had already obtained a considerable amount of valuable location data from users without their consent.
The complaint alleges negligence and privacy violations as a result of Google’s actions, misrepresentations, and omissions. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Google’s conduct violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act, California’s Unfair Competition Law, California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.