Google sued for secretly tracking people’s phones

Google is facing a lawsuit surrounding allegations that it illegally tracked millions of people through their phones, even after they set their privacy settings to disable the sharing of their location history.

Napoleon Patacsil of San Diego is seeking class-action status on behalf of US users of Android phones and Apple iPhones who were tracked against their will and knowledge.

Mr Patacsil claims Google’s “principal goal” was to “surreptitiously monitor” phone users and let third parties do the same.

Google represented that a user ‘can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.’ This simply was not true,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit alleges that Google violates people’s privacy by falsely assuring them that turning off their “Location History” feature on their phones will prevent their movements from being tracked.

An investigation by the Associated Press, published last week, first revealed the extent of Google’s tracking.

At the time, Google said it was clear about how it used and stored people’s data. 

“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location, History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” a spokesperson said.

“We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

The help section of Google’s website has since been update to say that turning Location History off “does not affect other location services” in phones, and that some location data may be saved through other services, such as Search and Maps.

Mr Patacsil is seeking unspecified damages in his case against Google.

Additional reporting by agencies.


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