Search engines faces potential class action, FTC penalties for ‘surreptitious’ location monitoring

A California resident called Napoleon Patacsil has filed case against Google in federal courtroom ( Patacsil sixth is v. Google, Inc. ) searching for class action status. The fit alleges personal injuries in the form of various Ca privacy violations stemming from “ surreptitious monitoring” of user place.

The suit has been filed after  an AP post identified the fact that Google  location capture still occurs   on mobile devices even when Area History is turned off. Following the statement, Google transformed help language in order to clarify that location is still utilized, even though Location History is handicapped.

The new language scans:

This particular [Location History] setting will not affect other location services on your own device, like Google Location Solutions and Find My Device. Some place data may be saved as part of your action on other services, like Lookup and Maps. When you turn off Area History for your Google Account, it’ s off for all devices related to that Google Account.

The litigation was first documented by Reuters .

There are a number associated with privacy-related claims in the lawsuit, among which is that Google’ s carry out violates California penal code area 637. 7, which prohibits the usage of “ an electronic tracking device to look for the location or movement of an individual. ” There are two exceptions: meant for user consent and for valid utilizes by law enforcement (e. g., using a search warrant).

Lawsuit firm  Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein is apparently representing plaintiff  Patacsil. Should the suit achieve course action status, it could make the situation very expensive for Google. However , Google’ s liability is not certain, neither are damages.

Except if provided by statute, the damages facet of the case is challenging for the individual to prove. Google could plus likely would argue that location solutions make phones perform better which he and any potential course members can’ t show these were harmed by Google Search or Maps’ use of location.

Within parallel with the litigation, the Digital Privacy Information Center (EPIC) delivered a notice   to the Federal Industry Commission claiming that the facts within the AP article constitute a breach of a consent decree (. pdf ) the organization agreed to this year . EPIC told the FTC:

[Location tracking] clearly violates Google’ h 2011 settlement with the FTC. Search engines is not permitted to track users once they have made clear in their privacy configurations that they do not want to be tracked. This particular privacy violation affects all Google android users and iPhone users who else use Google Maps or search. LEGENDARY urges the Commission to impose its Order and hold Search engines accountable.

The particular consent decree was tied to Google’ s ill-fated Buzz social network (remember that? ). The claim in that case is that Google used “ deceptive strategies and violated its own privacy claims to consumers. ” This is what LEGENDARY is saying Google has done in the present situation.

In my quick analysis of Google’ s potential exposure   over location tracking, I had neglected the 2011 consent decree. In lots of ways, that is a bigger threat than the municipal litigation and could bring significant economic penalties in excess of $41, 000 designed for single violations.


In regards to the Author

Greg Sterling is really a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Property. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk , about connecting the dots among digital media and real-world customer behavior. He is also VP associated with Strategy and Insights for the Nearby Search Association. Follow him upon Twitter or find him with Google+ .

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