Google Sued Over Data Collection From DMV

A California resident named Katherine Wilson has sued Google for allegedly tracking her activity on the state's Department of Motor Vehicles website.

“Google secretly used Google Analytics and DoubleClick when she renewed her disability parking placard to unlawfully collect her personal information from her motor vehicle record, and intercept and learn the contents of her communications with the DMV, which it later used to generate revenue for its advertising and marketing business without his [sic] consent,” Wilson's lawyers write in a complaint filed Friday in San Jose federal court.

“The personal information obtained and learned by Google is extremely valuable to Google and its marketing and advertising clients because the inferences derived from users’ personal information allow marketers and advertisers to target potential customers,” counsel adds.

The complaint includes claims that Google violated federal and state laws, including the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act -- a 1994 statute that prohibits anyone from knowingly obtaining personal information from a motor vehicle record for an improper purpose.



Meta Platforms is currently facing a similar lawsuit, brought last year by California resident Mikhail Gershzon.

In August, a federal judge rejected Meta's bid for a speedy dismissal of that matter.

Meta had argued that any data it allegedly collected wouldn't have been “personal information,” and wouldn't have been obtained from a “motor vehicle record.”

The company contended in a motion to dismiss the matter that the only information it allegedly received was Gershzon's first name, email address, and information suggesting he began an application for a disability placard.

The company also said none of the allegations in the complaint -- even if proven true -- would show that the data was used for an improper purpose, as opposed to a legitimate one, such as helping the Department of Motor Vehicles with market research.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston in the Northern District of California rejected those arguments for now. She said in written opinion that a first name, email address and information regarding a disability placard are the kinds of facts that can identify someone.

She also said that whether Meta was helping the agency conduct market research was the kind of factual issue that couldn't be resolved without more evidence.

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