Google Sued For Tracking User Location — A Report Shows How Bad It Really Is

Kyle Perisic | Contributor

A California man hit Google with a putative class action lawsuit in federal court for tracking his and other users’ locations even when the tracking feature was turned off.

“Google represented that a user ‘can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.’ This simply was not true,” states the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court Friday, Reuters reported Monday.

Napoleon Patacsil, the plaintiff, is seeking class-action status on behalf of U.S. Android and Apple iPhone users who turned the location tracking feature off. He is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for violating privacy laws.

A report published Aug. 15 by digital trade association Digital Content Next (DCN) and Vanderbilt University reveals that a dormant Android phone shared its location 340 times in a 24-hour period when the Google Chrome web browser was on in the background.

“Short of chucking your phone into the river, shunning the internet, and learning to read paper maps again, there’s not much you can do to keep Google from collecting data about you,” CNN’s Heather Kelly wrote about the study Monday.

The report, authored by Computer Science professor Douglas Schmidt at Vanderbilt, exposed that location information was 35 percent of all the data samples sent to Google.

“For comparison’s sake, a similar experiment found that on an iOS device with Safari but not Chrome, Google could not collect any appreciable data unless a user was interacting with the device,” the report’s key findings stated. “Moreover, an idle Android phone running the Chrome browser sends back to Google nearly fifty times as many data requests per hour as an idle iOS phone running Safari.”

“Google has largely avoided public scrutiny about its data collection practices despite having the ability to collect far more personal data about consumers across a variety of touchpoints,” the report added.

Accurate to the square foot, Google tracks its users’ locations even when tracking is turned off, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on Aug. 13. (RELATED: Google Releases Online Political Advertisements Archive)

An investigation by The Associated Press revealed that many Google applications on Android and iPhone devices had tracked users’ locations. Computer scientists at Princeton University confirmed the findings, The AP reported on Aug. 13.

Fox News’s Brett Larson also reported on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Feb. 7 that two phones — both without a SIM card nor connected to Wi-Fi, and one in airplane mode — had tracked his location as he drove around Washington, D.C. His movements were tracked with accuracy down to the second.

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