Android Users Proceed With Privacy Case Against Google

In a partial defeat for Google, a federal judge has refused to dismiss several privacy-related claims by a group of Android users who say the company transmitted their geolocation data and other personal information to app developers.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California ruled on Monday that the consumers could proceed with claims that Google violated a California law prohibiting unfair business practices. But White also narrowed the lawsuit by dismissing a claim that Google also violated a federal computer fraud law.

The potential class-action lawsuit dates to 2011, when several consumers alleged that Google violated their privacy by transmitting their personal information -- including geolocation data and unique device identifiers -- to app developers. The consumers, who installed apps like Angry Birds and Pandora, accused Google of misleading users about the data transmission.

Google argued that the complaint should be dismissed for several reasons, including that the users lacked “standing” because they didn't suffer any injury. But White disagreed. He said that the consumers alleged injury by claiming that their battery life was shortened by the data transmission.

White's ruling paves the way for the consumers to proceed to the next stage of their lawsuit, but doesn't indicate that Google will ultimately lose the case.

The suit was initially filed soon after researchers reported that the majority of the most popular 101 apps for iPhone and Android phones sent their unique identifiers to other companies. Apple recently prevailed in a privacy lawsuit that involved similar allegations. In that case, consumers sued the company for allegedly misrepresenting its privacy practices. Last November, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled that consumers could not proceed because they didn't have evidence that they read Apple's privacy policy before purchasing an iPhone or iPad.

 

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