Google Interception of Consumer Info on Mobile Apps Class Action

“Google is a voyeur extraordinaire[,]” says the second line of the complaint for this class action. It alleges that Google illegally intercepts private activity on mobile apps which it then uses for its own profit. The complaint brings suit against Google, LLC and its parent company Alphabet, Inc.

Google claims that users can control their privacy by adjusting their privacy settings to “turn Web & App Activity off … at any time” to stop Google from seeing their activity on these apps.

“Google in fact intercepts, tracks, collects and sells consumer mobile app browsing history and activity data regardless of what safeguards or ‘privacy settings’ consumers undertake to protect their privacy[,]” the complaint asserts.

The complaint claims that “even if consumers completely avoid using Google-branded apps and devices, Google still tracks and compiles their communications by covertly integrating Google’s tracking software into the products of other companies.”

The complaint alleges that it does this through its Firebase SDKs, or software development kits. The Firebase tools supposedly provide extra functionality to apps. The complaint claims, “Third-party apps use Firebase SDK because its implementation is a prerequisite before Google allows access to its other tools such as Google Analytics, use of Google’s ad exchanges…l and marketing of those apps on the Google play store.”

The Firebase SDK then allows Google to “intercept, track, and collect their users’ app activity data” even if they’ve turned off the Web & App Activity tracking. According to the complaint, “Over 70% of online websites and publishers on the internet … utilize Google’s website visitor-tracking product, ‘Google Analytics.’” Google can thus access consumer data through others’ websites as soon as the websites are loaded in the consumers’ browser.

“Beyond the California Constitution,” the complaint says, “federal and state privacy laws recognize individuals’ reasonable expectations of privacy in confidential communications under these circumstances.”

The complaint alleges that Google “created and monetized user information without those users’ consent.” It calls Google’s action a “knowing and unauthorized invasion of consumer privacy.”

The counts include violations of the Federal Wiretap Act and invasion of privacy, among other things.

Two classes have been proposed for this action.

  • Class 1 is all individuals who, during the Class Period, (a) turned off Web & App Activity and (b) whose mobile app activity was still tracked by Google via Firebase SDK through a non-Google-branded mobile app, (c) on an Android OS mobile device.
  • Class 2 is all individuals who, during the Class Period, (a) turned off Web & App Activity and (b) whose mobile app activity was still tracked by Google via Firebase SDK through a non-Google-branded mobile app, (c) on any non-Android OS mobile device.
Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Google Interception of Consumer Info on Mobile Apps Complaint

July 14, 2020

“Google is a voyeur extraordinaire[,]” says the second line of the complaint for this class action. It alleges that Google illegally intercepts private activity on mobile apps which it then uses for its own profit. The complaint brings suit against Google, LLC and its parent company Alphabet, Inc.

Google Interception of Consumer Info on Mobile Apps Complaint

Case Event History

Google Interception of Consumer Info on Mobile Apps Complaint

July 14, 2020

“Google is a voyeur extraordinaire[,]” says the second line of the complaint for this class action. It alleges that Google illegally intercepts private activity on mobile apps which it then uses for its own profit. The complaint brings suit against Google, LLC and its parent company Alphabet, Inc.

Google Interception of Consumer Info on Mobile Apps Complaint
Tags: Your Privacy, wiretapping