fbpx

Ford Infotainment Records Texts from Phone Washington Class Action

Ford Motor Company makes Ford and Lincoln vehicles that contain infotainment systems. Users of the vehicles can connect their smartphones to the infotainment systems and to use the infotainment system controls to control the smartphone. But the complaint alleges that, unknown to the users of the vehicles, the infotainment system downloads the text messages of any smartphone connected to it and records them. The complaint alleges this is a violation of the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

The class for this action is all persons who, between September 10, 2018 and September 10, 2021, had their text messages recorded by the infotainment system in a Ford or Lincoln vehicle while they were a resident of Washington state.

The infotainment systems interface with the smartphones’ messaging systems, the complaint says, whether the phones use Apple’s iOS operating system or the Android operating system.

The complaint alleges, “On information and belief, infotainment in Ford vehicles from at least 2014 onward also download and store a copy of all text messages on smartphones when [the phones are] connected to infotainment systems in Ford vehicles.” The complaint also says, again on information and belief, that a company called Berla Corporation makes the equipment that is able to access and record the messages.

The complaint quotes Berla as saying, “Our vehicle forensics tools are available to law enforcement, military, civil and regulatory agencies, and select private industry organizations.” The complaint says, “Upon information and belief, the Berla system is not generally available to the general public.” Thus, the complaint says, “while a vehicle owner cannot retrieve that text message, Berla and Ford have ensured that law enforcement can.”

Ben LeMere, the founder and CEO of Berla, has given interviews acknowledging the process. The complaint quotes him as saying, “Your phone died, you’re gonna get in the car, plug it in, and there’s going to be this nice convenient USB port for you. When you plug it into this USB port, it’s going to charge your phone, absolutely. And as soon as it powers up, it’s going to start sucking all your data down into the car.”

The WPA, the complaint claims, forbids any entity in the state of Washington from intercepting or recording any private communication without first obtaining the consent of all the participants in the communication.

One of the plaintiffs in this case, Mark Jones, owns a 2021 Ford vehicle. He did not consent to the infotainment’s system’s downloading of his text messages, and Ford was not a party to his text messages. The other plaintiff, Michael McKee, sent him at least one text message and also did not consent to the infotainment system’s intercepting or recording of that message.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Ford Infotainment Records Texts from Phone Washington Complaint

September 10, 2021

Ford Motor Company makes Ford and Lincoln vehicles that contain infotainment systems. Users of the vehicles can connect their smartphones to the infotainment systems and to use the infotainment system controls to control the smartphone. But the complaint alleges that, unknown to the users of the vehicles, the infotainment system downloads the text messages of any smartphone connected to it and records them. The complaint alleges this is a violation of the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

Ford Infotainment Records Texts from Phone Washington Complaint

Case Event History

Ford Infotainment Records Texts from Phone Washington Complaint

September 10, 2021

Ford Motor Company makes Ford and Lincoln vehicles that contain infotainment systems. Users of the vehicles can connect their smartphones to the infotainment systems and to use the infotainment system controls to control the smartphone. But the complaint alleges that, unknown to the users of the vehicles, the infotainment system downloads the text messages of any smartphone connected to it and records them. The complaint alleges this is a violation of the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

Ford Infotainment Records Texts from Phone Washington Complaint
Tags: Recording Electronic Communications Without Consent, Your Privacy