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Google sued over Location History scandal, case could receive class-action status

If nothing else, this Location History scandal proves the importance of choosing the right words.

Published onAugust 21, 2018

A Google logo.
  • The Google Location History scandal just took a new turn with a civil lawsuit.
  • The lawsuit could be divided into “Android users” and “iPhone users,” and could receive class-action status.
  • Google is also allegedly in violation of a settlement with the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Last Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Google’s posted policy when it comes to its Location History feature was inaccurate. Even though Google’s wording on the policy made it seem like turning off the feature would mean you were no longer tracked, that was actually not the case.

Instead, turning off Location History stopped some of your data from being tracked, but you were still tracked in many ways.

In response to the AP article, Google updated the wording in its Location History policy to better reflect what it does with your tracked data.

Even with Location History off, Google will still track you (Update: New wording)
GPS Location Navigation Icon

However, an argument could be made that Google acted negligently with its not-quite-true original policy wording. There are most likely millions of people out there who turned Location History off under the assumption that their data would not be tracked at all.

Now, via ArsTechnica, one man is suing Google in response to the scandal — and he’s seeking class-action status.

Napoleon Patacsil filed his lawsuit in San Francisco on Friday, arguing that Google is violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act as well as the general right to privacy granted to each citizen per California’s state constitution. Patacsil wants there to be two classes to the lawsuit: an “Android Class” and an “iPhone Class,” obviously separated by users for each type of device.

It is not clear what will happen for people who own both iPhones and Android devices, nor is it clear what kind of financial penalty the lawsuit is seeking.

Google could be in big trouble as this will likely be the first of many lawsuits.

It will likely take months before a judge hears the case and makes a decision on the two classes and the class-action status of the lawsuit.

In related news, privacy advocates wrote a letter to the FTC to clarify that Google’s alleged neglect, in this case, violates a 2011 settlement with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). In the settlement, Google agreed to two provisions that it appears to have violated with this Location History scandal:

  1. Google will not misrepresent “the purposes for which it collects and uses covered information.”
  2. It will also not misrepresent “the extent to which consumers may exercise control over the collection, use, or disclosure of covered information.”

So far, Google hasn’t released a statement on the lawsuit or the letter relating to the EPIC settlement.

NEXT: Conflicting reports can’t decide if Google is or isn’t the top smart speaker vendor

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