Last week, a report revealed that Google continues to collect location data from users even when "Location History" is disabled in the options. The company was unapologetic, but changed its placement policy. Now, a California man is on trial to accuse Google of violating the state's privacy laws.
Associated Press first broke that Google's placement tracking settings were more complicated than they appeared. The problem came down to the labeling of various features in the Google Activity Controls menu. A slider on the Location History section seemed to indicate that this was a one-stop store to prevent Google from hanging on your location data. A support page for the feature is read, "With the location log, the places you go are not saved anymore." But that was not entirely true. In order to fully expand from having your location activity stored by Google, you must also temporarily stop web and activity control as well. This is confirmed if a user diges deeper into Google Product Documentation.
At that time, Google defended itself and said: "We provide clear descriptions of these tools and robust controls so people can turn them on or off and delete them stories at any time." On Friday, the wording changed support page to make it clear that some Google services will continue to follow you around. Friday was also the day when Napoleon Patacsil filed a lawsuit against Google in San Francisco federal court and asked for a judge to grant the case status so that other Google users could join.
Reuters first reported on the case, a copy of which was reviewed by Gizmodo. Patacsil presents as evidence the AP's activity map that was registered when volunteered by Location History and moved around Manhattan. It also includes screenshots of Google's unchanged policy and claims that the company's main goal was to monitor plaintiffs and classmates and allow third parties to do the same. "
Success accuses Google of violating California's privacy laws on three counts. It mentions section 637.7 of the Criminal Code that "prohibits the use of an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person."
The second count is based on the first, claiming that Google violated the plaintiff's reasonable expectation of privacy. This claim continues to say that "Google involved in true tracking of location history fraudulently and in direct opposition to the explicit instructions of plaintiffs and members of the class."
The third citation goes on saying that the plaintiff's "loneliness, secrecy, privacy or private relationship "was violated" by trying to track their location. "Success claims that Google has caused harm to users" because they revealed sensitive and confidential location information that constituted a serious violation of social standards "and were the victims of an" intrusion into their private affairs. "
The biggest question the courts must consider is whether Google fulfilled its legal obligation to obtain consent from its users. Burning all the information a user needs deeply into separate documents on separate websites, adequately inform a user about what they accept? If all that information is collected in a document located on a separate portal, will it qualify as sufficient explanation of the company's guidelines?
By changing its policy last week, Google appears to understand that some users may be confused by their previous approach. But that does not mean that something is wrong, just that it responds to user feedback. We asked Google if it intends to fight this lawsuit if it moves forward, but does not receive an immediate response.
On the day Patacsil filed his lawsuit, activists from the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urged to investigate Google for potentially violating a letter of consent signed with the agency in 201
[Northern District of California via Reuters]