Google Sued For Sharing Data With App Developers

An Illinois resident has filed a potential class-action lawsuit accusing Google of violating its privacy policy by sending developers the names of people who purchase apps.

Alice Svenson says in court papers that she purchased an app from Google Play for $1.77 in May. She alleges that Google then shared her personal information with the YCDroid, the developer of the app, which converts SMS messages to emails.

Svenson argues that Google's sharing of the data violated its own policies, which provide that the company only discloses information with third parties if doing so is necessary to process a transaction. She disputes that sharing her data with the developer was necessary -- especially because other companies facilitate app purchases without sharing users' data with developers.

“Google's competitor Microsoft does not share personally identifiable information with third-party vendors on its similarly-offered Windows Phone Store, yet users are still able to purchase apps through the Windows Phone Store,” she says in her court papers, filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

She argues that Google's decision to send information about her to a developer harmed her by exposing her to “a significant and imminently greater risk of identity theft.”

The lawsuit appears to be the first one stemming solely from revelations earlier this year that Google routinely sends developers the personal information of app buyers. Australian developer Dan Nolan brought the practice to light in February, when he criticized Google for sending developers the personal information of app buyers.

"Every App purchase you make on Google Play gives the developer your name, suburb and email address with no indication that this information is actually being transferred," he wrote on his blog. "With the information, I have available to me through the checkout portal, I could track down and harass users who left negative reviews or refunded the app purchase."

Google never denied Nolan's report. Instead, the company says it designed its platform so that people who purchase apps do so from the developer. That model differs from the popular iTunes platform, where people purchase apps from Apple.

When Google's practice came to light, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) criticized the company. He said in a letter to Google that “over-sharing” of personal information can lead to identity theft.
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1 comment about "Google Sued For Sharing Data With App Developers".
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  1. Joe Putman from Dart Data Inc., September 9, 2013 at 8:48 a.m.

    The idea that simply sharing a consumer's name zip code and email address constitutes putting that consumer at imminent threat of identity theft is laughable.

    I have to pay my local telephone company to agree not to publish my name and full home address, though no one is considering the white pages to be an identity theft smorgasbord. Just another example of greedy plaintiffs' attorneys making products and services more expensive for the rest of us by bringing frivolous suits where the damages they demand are completely untethered from the injury alleged.