Google Sued For Tracking Users' Locations

  @ibtimes on May 02 2011 11:25 AM

Two Android phone users are suing Google for $50 million in the wake of revelations that their phones might be tracking their locations.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on April 27, is seeking class-action status.  

The plaintiffs, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski, are residents of Oakland County. The two say in the suit that Google's privacy policy did not say that the phones broadcast their location information. Further, they say Google knew that most users would not understand that the privacy policy wouldn't allow for Google to track users' locations.

The suit seeks the $50 million in damages as well as an order preventing Google from tracking the locations of its phones.

Google's Android system collects information about surrounding Wi-Fi networks with the users' permission. The phones also gather information on nearby cell towers. The information is stored in a cache file.

Unlike Apple's iOS, there is a limit on the size of the file, so only the last 200 Wi-Fi networks and 50 cell tower locations are recorded. But the data is transmitted along with a unique identifier for the phone itself, and is unencrypted.

Apple has run into similar problems and is also the target of a class action suit.

Both Google and Apple have come under scrutiny in recent weeks because of a smartphone's ability to track locations, and for the use of location data in tailoring advertisements and services to users based on where they are.

The full text of the lawsuit can be found here.

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