Thursday, May 5, 2011

Google Faces $50 Million Lawsuit Over Android Location Tracking

Google has maintained that the collection of the location data is entirely opt-in. “We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices,” Google spokesperson Randall Safara told Ars last week. However, the class action lawsuit claims that Google very well knew that “ordinary consumers acting reasonably would not understand the Google privacy policy to include the extensive location tracking at issue in this case.”

The plaintiffs believe that Google’s actions violate the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, various state consumer protection laws, as well as “common law rights” to privacy.

“It is unconscionable to allow Google to continue unlawfully and without proper consent to extensive tracking of Plaintiffs and proposed Class members,” according to the complaint. “If Google wanted to track the whereabouts of each of its products’ users, it should have obtained specific, particularized informed consent such that Google consumers across America would not have been shocked and alarmed to learn of Google’s practices in recent days.”

The lawsuits asks the court to require Google to either give up tracking Android users or to clearly inform users of “its true intentions about tracking,” including whether that information is released to third partis are used for marketing. It further seeks monetary damages “in excess of $50,000,000.00″ as well as punitive damages on top of that amount.

Both Apple and Google plan to attend a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law on May 10 to discuss the very issues called into question in the lawsuit. Representatives from the US Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Center for Democracy and Technology, and others will talk about what the latest mobile technology means for privacy and the law. Justin Brookman, who will be testifying at the hearing for the CDT, believes the law needs to be updated to account for the reality of modern mobile technology.

The best way to address these cross-platform, cross-industry questions is through public policy,” Brookman recently wrote in an editorial on CNN.com. “We need legislation that establishes fair information practices for commercial collection, disclosure and use of all consumer data—but especially for sensitive data, like geolocation information—and we need the courts and Congress to update the rules for governmental access, to require a judicial warrant for tracking the location of cell phones and other mobile communications devices.”

 Source: Click Here

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