Google sued for 'blatant lies' about user privacy

Posted:
in General Discussion
A new suit alleges that Android and potentially iOS users are secretly having their personal data harvested by "voyeur extraordinare" Google, even if they are not using Google's own apps.

Google's headquarters. Photo: WikiCommons
Google's headquarters. Photo: WikiCommons


In its second suit against Google in as many months, law firm Boies Schiller Flexner is accusing the search giant of illicitly gathering user data from mobile users. Where the previous suit was specifically regarding the use of Google Chrome, this one concerns the use of many apps on the Android platform -- and potentially on iOS, too.

"Google is always watching," the suit, seen by Law360, says. "Even when it promises to look away, Google is watching. Every click, every website, every app -- our entire virtual lives. Intercepted. Tracked. Logged. Compiled. Packaged. Sold for profit."

As the suit notes, Google has an optional setting to prevent tracking of "web & app activity," but it alleges that this and other reassurances about privacy are "blatant lies."

"Google in fact intercepts, tracks, collects and sells consumer mobile app browsing history and activity data regardless of what safeguards or 'privacy settings' consumers undertake to protect their privacy," it continues.

"Google knows every user's friends, hobbies, political leanings, culinary preferences, cinematic tastes, shopping activity, preferred vacation destinations, romantic involvements, and even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing aspects of the user's app browsing histories and usage," says the suit, "regardless of whether the user accepts Google's illusory offer to keep such activities 'private.'"

The suit claims that Google achieves this in part via the use of its Firebase SDK. This is an API for developers which helps them integrate tools that monetize apps.

Still from a Google video promoting its Firebase SDK as a backend solution for mobile app developers
Still from a Google video promoting its Firebase SDK as a backend solution for mobile app developers


Google promotes the use of this for mobile developers on any platform. "Easy to integrate on iOS, Android, and the Web," it says on the Firebase SDK website. "Ship cross-platform apps with ease."

Boies Schiller Flexner's suit alleges that app developers have "no choice" but to use this SDK. According to Reuters, in a separate case, the Justice Department has included Firebase in its potential antitrust investigations.

Boies Schiller Flexner filed the suit in the US District Court in San Jose, on behalf of plaintiffs Anibal Rodriguez and JulieAnne Muniz. While it's not known what specific damages the suit is seeking, it is accusing Google of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, and also the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act.

June 2020's similar suit from the same lawfirm, specifically regarding Google Chrome use, is also concerning the Federal Wiretap Act, and seeks a minimum of $5 billion dollars. Google has not commented on the new suit, but has previously said it will contest the June 2020 claim.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 334member
    Are the guys defending always Google in this forum, reading this?
    DogpersonrotateleftbytelkruppRayz2016cat52Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 33
    DogpersonDogperson Posts: 119member
    Hoping this grabs some headlines and gets some serious traction. 
    I am still under the illusion that clearing all cookies and resetting the Ad ID multiple times a day helps even though I never use google or F_c_book. Be Evil google.
    Dont even use grocery store membership cards. Dreaming on.....
    edited July 2020 rotateleftbytebaconstangcat52watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 33
    chaickachaicka Posts: 248member
    On iOS and iPadOS devices, just a search (when inside Settings) for 'Firebase' and 'Crashlytics' will show up the list of apps that embedded these components.

    Example: Agoda
    edited July 2020 DogpersonronnGG1wonkothesaneviclauyyccat52cornchipqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 33
    Google is doing what Google does and to **** with what anyone else thinks or says. They clearly think that they are above the law (anywhere in the world). They aren't alone. Any company that relies to heavily on advertising income for its profits will need to do something similar. IMHO, it is beholden on all of us to reduce the amount of data that Google is able to slurp/steal/acquire from each and everyone of us. As the old saying goes, 'starve a fever'.
    Dogpersoncat52lightvox88dysamoriaolswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 33
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 921member
    The same could largely be said for Facebook.
    They track you even if you have never opened an account. I would call that stalking.
    Dogpersonflyingdpbaconstangviclauyyccat52dysamoriaolswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 33
    Well, the government wants it this way, so they have access to it, so I'm not convinced this will go anywhere.

    My tin foil hat is doing its job today.
    ronncornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 33
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,637member
    qwerty52 said:
    Are the guys defending always Google in this forum, reading this?



    @gatorguy in 3...2...1...

    Dogpersoncat52Beatscornchipqwerty52watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 33
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,637member
    How does one prove "blatant lies"? That's not a very legal sounding claim. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,303member
    qwerty52 said:
    Are the guys defending always Google in this forum, reading this?
    Gosh, lots of lawyer-speak claims going on there. It will be super-interesting to see what facts there are, if any, that support the stuff he's saying in the complaint. 
    muthuk_vanalingamspheric
  • Reply 10 of 33
    these search engines are just advertising and a platform for what information THEY want to broadcast.
    Since last week, I am trying to find what company sold the most laptops this year, (HP twice as much as other brands)
    all i  get are the BEST laptops we should buy.
    i have tried many keywords and phrases to no avail.
    i am using duckduckgo

    If i was a Government, I would sue every tech giant.
    They would rather pay that $billion dollar fine then lose face.


    edited July 2020 dysamoria
  • Reply 11 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,303member
    these search engines are just advertising and a platform for what information THEY want to broadcast.
    Since last week, I am trying to find what company sold the most laptops this year, (HP twice as much as other brands)
    all i  get are the BEST laptops we should buy.
    i have tried many keywords and phrases to no avail.
    i am using duckduckgo

    If i was a Government, I would sue every tech giant.
    They would rather pay that $billion dollar fine then lose face.


    Try the same search in Google Chrome, "what company sold the most laptops this year" and you'll get far better results rather than sales offers, at least as the top results. Bing, the provider behind DDG, seems to be on a big marketing/ad binge at the moment and perhaps that's why you got what you did. 
    edited July 2020 mtlion2020muthuk_vanalingamviclauyyccat52ols
  • Reply 12 of 33
    gatorguy said:
    Try the same search in Google Chrome, "what company sold the most laptops this year" and you'll get far better results rather than sales offers, at least as the top results. Bing, the provider behind DDG, seems to be on a big marketing/ad binge at the moment and perhaps that's why you got what you did. 
    thanks for the reply,
     I read an article recently I think in PC Mag that stated HP sold 24% of the laptops this year. The article was about how work at home increased sales in the laptop market. I still cant believe HP was top, they do not make a good laptop, cheap perhaps. but they doubled Dell's sales this year.
    i searched that key phrase in google.com and received the same info as ducksgo.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 33
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    You can tell by the language they’re using that they know they don’t have a leg to stand on. 

    Boies Schiller Flexner's suit alleges that app developers have "no choice" but to use this SDK. According to Reuters, in a separate case, the Justice Department has included Firebase in its potential antitrust investigations.
    Well, how exactly is Google forcing developers to use it? I’m a developer and I wouldn’t touch it.
    muthuk_vanalingamcat52Ofercornchip
  • Reply 14 of 33
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,303member
    gatorguy said:
    Try the same search in Google Chrome, "what company sold the most laptops this year" and you'll get far better results rather than sales offers, at least as the top results. Bing, the provider behind DDG, seems to be on a big marketing/ad binge at the moment and perhaps that's why you got what you did. 
    thanks for the reply,
     I read an article recently I think in PC Mag that stated HP sold 24% of the laptops this year. The article was about how work at home increased sales in the laptop market. I still cant believe HP was top, they do not make a good laptop, cheap perhaps. but they doubled Dell's sales this year.
    i searched that key phrase in google.com and received the same info as ducksgo.


    Odd. I searched it using that exact phrase  a few moments ago and the first result, the "one in the box", is this one
    https://fortunly.com/blog/lap-top-market-share/#:~:text=Lenovo%20and%20HP%20hold%20the,a%20market%20share%20of%2022.5%25.

    In fact on the entire first page, 10 different results, not one single link to an offer to sell ie a computer company's sales site. Every one of them what I would consider an educational/informative link.
    muthuk_vanalingammtlion2020viclauyyc
  • Reply 15 of 33
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 791member
    And in Google's defense they will argue that the user "opted in" and when the judge asks on what bases, they will reply "well they read the terms of service!"
    BeatsGG1cornchipdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 33
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,566member
    chaicka said:
    On iOS and iPadOS devices, just a search (when inside Settings) for 'Firebase' and 'Crashlytics' will show up the list of apps that embedded these components.

    Example: Agoda
    Thanks for the tip. For me HRS and IFTTT came up for Firebase and Komoot for Crashlytics. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 33
    The big problem with Google is their code is embedded into millions of websites. I could avoid using any Google products (search, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome......) and Google STILL collects data about me, without my consent.
    BeatsdysamoriaMacProDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 33
    Rayz2016 said:
    You can tell by the language they’re using that they know they don’t have a leg to stand on. 

    Boies Schiller Flexner's suit alleges that app developers have "no choice" but to use this SDK. According to Reuters, in a separate case, the Justice Department has included Firebase in its potential antitrust investigations.
    Well, how exactly is Google forcing developers to use it? I’m a developer and I wouldn’t touch it.
    @Rayz2016: I know it’s totally besides the topic of this article, but what tools do you as a developer recommend instead of Firebase?
    cat52Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 33
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 728member
    Side question.

    i am still using gmail. Which email service you guys recommend me to switch to? Even small fee pay email service is ok. 
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
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