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Toyota, Lexus Vehicles Download Texts Washington Class Action

Is your car invading your privacy? The complaint for this class action alleges that the infotainment systems in vehicles made by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. download and record text messages from smartphones connected with them. The complaint alleges that this is a violation of a state law, the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

The class for this action is all persons who, between September 24, 2018 and September 24, 2021, had their text messages recorded by the infotainment system in a Toyota or Lexus vehicle while the persons were residents of the state of Washington.

The WPA prohibits any person or entity from intercepting or recording private communications unless except with the permission of all parties to the communication.

Toyota infotainment systems permit drivers or passengers to connect smartphones to the systems. With either Apple or Android devices, they can make or receive calls through the systems or play music stored on the devices.

But the complaint alleges that this is not simply an innocent convenience: “

The complaint alleges, “On information and belief, infotainment systems in Toyota vehicles manufactured 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 Honda 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, Evgeniy Goussev, owns a 2019 Toyota vehicle and has plugged his smartphone into its infotainment system. The other, Stacey Ritch sent at least one text message to Goussev. Neither of them gave permission for their messages to be intercepted or recorded.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Toyota, Lexus Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint

September 24, 2021

Is your car invading your privacy? The complaint for this class action alleges that the infotainment systems in vehicles made by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. download and record text messages from smartphones connected with them. The complaint alleges that this is a violation of a state law, the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

Toyota, Lexus Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint

Case Event History

Toyota, Lexus Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint

September 24, 2021

Is your car invading your privacy? The complaint for this class action alleges that the infotainment systems in vehicles made by Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. download and record text messages from smartphones connected with them. The complaint alleges that this is a violation of a state law, the Washington Privacy Act (WPA).

Toyota, Lexus Vehicles Download Texts Washington Complaint
Tags: Recording Electronic Communications Without Consent, Your Privacy