Google sued for illegally tracking users’ phones
A lawsuit has accused Google of illegally tracking the location of users using their searches and web activity.
The tracking continues even if users turn off ‘Location History’, according to an investigation by the Associated Press and Princeton University last week.
A separate function, Web & App Activity, continues to store data on the location of iPhone and Android users.
San Diego resident Napoleon Patacsil issued the legal challenge in California. He stated that Google’s “principal goal was to surreptitiously monitor [the claimant] and to allow third-parties to do the same”.
If a class action is granted, millions of smartphone users in the US could try to join the case. Patacsil is seeking unspecified damages for Google’s alleged violations of privacy laws.
The legal challenge is one of the first issued under California’s Consumer Privacy Act, which was brought in earlier this year and is considered to be the state’s own version of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
GDPR is an EU regulation that came into force on May 25 under which companies must have a valid and lawful purpose when collecting data such as location. One of these is that the individual has given clear consent for the company to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
Companies that break the data rules can face fines of €19.5m of up to 4pc of global turnover, which could potentially add up to a €4.22bn fine for Google parent company Alphabet.
Google has yet to face a challenge over this specific aspect of its location tracking in Europe.