Google Says Court Should Throw Out Android Privacy Lawsuit

Smartphone-Lock-AGoogle is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by six Android users who say the company violated their privacy.

The consumers, who beefed up their allegations last month, say Google violated the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act as well as California's Unfair Competition Law by allegedly transmitting people's geolocation data and other personal information to app developers.

But Google argues in new court papers that the consumers still haven't set out a solid enough case to proceed. “Plaintiffs’ two theories of liability suffer from similar flaws: neither by collecting location information nor by allegedly facilitating app developers in their data collection has Google caused ... any cognizable injury or violated either [law],” Google argues in court papers filed late last week.

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The lawsuit, which dates to 2011, centers on allegations that Google wrongly transmits users' geolocation data and other personal information to app developers. Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California dismissed a version of the case. But in May, the consumers filed a new complaint -- their third one in the case -- expanding their allegations.

The consumers say in their most recent complaint that Google's decision to share data about purchasers of paid apps runs counter to the company's terms of service, which state that the company doesn't disclose people's personal information without their opt-in consent. The consumers also beefed up allegations that Google's information-sharing depleted their batteries and consumed their data, arguing that Google's capture of geo-location via GPS satellite position data “is resource intensive and consumes battery life.”

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

Google counters in its new papers that the consumers' allegations regarding battery drain are too vague to show they suffered economic injury. “There certainly is no concrete allegation that the specific batteries on the named plaintiffs’ devices were compromised in their functionality or value, had to be replaced or repaired, or were drained in a way that was unreasonable or at odds with the ordinary operation of an electronic device,” the company says.

Google also says that consumers had adequate notice about any information transfers to app developers, adding that Android's operating system doesn't transmit personally identifiable data about users. “This case does not involve information like email addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, or dates of birth,” it adds.

The company adds that it doesn't obtain geolocation information “unless and until users choose to activate location-based services on their devices.”

The lawsuit was brought 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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