Google Urges Judge To Dismiss Suit Over Location Tracking

Smartphone users have no grounds to sue Google for tracking their locations because they agreed to allow the company to collect that data, Google contends in new court papers.

The company's argument comes in response to a lawsuit filed in August, by San Diego resident Napoleon Patacsil. He alleged in a class-action complaint that Google collects and stores location information, even when people believe their privacy settings prevent Google from doing so.

Google contends its disclosures in the privacy policy and terms of service adequately informed users about the company's data collection practices.

“Patacsil cannot state any claim for invasion of privacy -- whether under the California Invasion of Privacy Act, the California Constitution, or the common-law tort of intrusion upon seclusion -- because he consented to Google’s use of his location information,” the company writes in papers filed Monday with U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Davila in San Jose.

Patacsil filed suit several days after The Associated Press reported that Google stores location data gleaned from some services -- including search and maps -- even when people turn off the "Location History" setting. People who want to prevent Google from storing any location data must turn off a separate setting -- "Web and App Activity."

After The AP's report came out, Google revised a help page to inform people that turning off Location History doesn't affect other location services, and that some location data may still be saved. But the page previously read: "With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

The AP report also spurred advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center to argue to the Federal Trade Commission that Google violated a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. That order prohibits the company from misrepresenting its privacy practices. "A user who turned off the 'Location History' setting believed that Google would no longer store their location information," EPIC wrote in August. "Google’s subsequent changes to its policy, after it has already obtained location data on Internet users, fails to comply with the 2011 order.

Google argues in its new court papers that its “Location History” setting is turned off by default, and that its statements explaining “Location History” must be read alongside other disclosures.

“Other support pages -- such as the Web & App Activity page -- make clear that Google collects location information when those services are used,” Google writes.

Patacsil is expected to respond to Google's argument by November 5.

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