Android Users Beef Up Privacy Claims Against Google

A group of Android users who are suing Google for allegedly violating their privacy have beefed up their complaint with new claims that the company wrongly transfers users' names and contact information information to app developers.

“In February 2013, it was revealed that Google sent personally identifying information of users, including contact information, to app developers after a user has purchased the developer's app,” the consumers allege in their latest court papers, filed Thursday.

The new papers come around six weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California dismissed an earlier version of the lawsuit, which accuses Google of wrongly transmitting users' geolocation data and other personal information to app developers. White previously ruled that the consumers didn't allege sufficient facts to support their claims that Google violated the federal computer fraud law, as well as a host of state laws.

In their new complaint, the consumers add allegations about the controversy that erupted this spring, after it emerged that Google sent the names and contact information of users who purchased apps to developers. Many observers were surprised to learn that Google did so, especially because Apple's iTunes platform does not share purchasers' data. But Google said that the Google Wallet privacy policy always allowed it to share information necessary to process transactions.

The consumers say in their latest complaint that Google's sharing of information with app developers runs counter to its terms of service, which state that the company doesn't disclose people's personal information without their opt-in consent.

The consumers also beef up allegations that Google's information-sharing depleted their batteries and consumed their data. They allege that Google's capture of geo-location via GPS satellite position data “is resource intensive and consumes battery life.”

“Because [Google's] actions caused the batteries of plaintiffs' mobile phones to discharge more quickly, defendant reduced the utility of those mobile phone batteries,” they assert.

They add that they were exposed to overage charges by the transmission of data to third parties, given that the transfers could have been counted against their monthly allotment of wireless data.

The lawsuit dates to 2011, when consumers alleged that Google violated their privacy by transmitting their geolocation data, unique device identifiers and other information to app developers. The consumers, who installed apps like Angry Birds and Pandora, say that Google misleads users about the data transmission.

The consumers, who are seeking class-action status, say that Google also allowed app developers to access Web searches, music or video selection and information about users' age and gender. The users said they never consented to sharing that type of data with outside companies.

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 is facing a similar lawsuit for allegedly transmitting users' personal information to app developers.

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