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General Motors Vehicles Download Texts Washington Class Action

Is your General Motors (GM) vehicle invading your privacy? The complaint for this class action alleges that the infotainment systems in GM vehicles download and record text messages stored on smartphones connected to them. It bring suit under the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

The class for this action is all persons who, between November 4, 2018 and November 4, 2021, had their text messages recorded by the infotainment system of a GM vehicle (Chevrolet, Buick, or Cadillac) while the person was a resident of Washington state.

The WPA forbids any person or entity from intercepting or recording private communications unless it has the permission of all parties to the communication.
GM infotainment systems permit drivers or passengers to connect their Apple or Android smartphones and control them through the infotainment system. This allows them to make or receive calls through the infotainment system or play music stored on the devices.

But the complaint alleges that this is not simply an innocent convenience: “On information and belief, infotainment systems in GM vehicles from at least 2014 onward also download and store a copy of all text messages on smartphones when [they are] connected to infotainment systems in GM vehicles.”

The complaint also suggests that the part of the infotainment systems that extract the text messages are made by Berla Corporation.

This Berla system, the complaint suggests, does not make the stored messages available to the owner of the vehicle or smartphone. 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 quotes Berla’s founder and CEO, Ben LeMere, as saying, on a podcast, “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.”

It also cites a story told by LeMere on a podcast about taking the data from seventy different phones out of a Ford Explorer rented at BWI Marshall Airport outside Washington, DC.

The complaint alleges, “Berla specifically restricts access to its systems, making them available primarily to law enforcement and private investigation service providers.”

One of the plaintiffs in this case, Michael McKee, owns a 2020 GM vehicle and has plugged his smartphone into its infotainment system on numerous occasions. The other, Evgeniy Goussev, sent at least one text message to McKee. Neither of them gave permission for their messages to be intercepted or recorded.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

General Motors Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint

November 4, 2021

Is your General Motors (GM) vehicle invading your privacy? The complaint for this class action alleges that the infotainment systems in GM vehicles download and record text messages stored on smartphones connected to them. It brings suit under the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

General Motors Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint

Case Event History

General Motors Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint

November 4, 2021

Is your General Motors (GM) vehicle invading your privacy? The complaint for this class action alleges that the infotainment systems in GM vehicles download and record text messages stored on smartphones connected to them. It brings suit under the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

General Motors Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint
Tags: Recording Electronic Communications Without Consent, Your Privacy