Google hit with lawsuit accusing them of tracking phone users regardless of privacy settings

“Google has been accused in a lawsuit of illegally tracking the movements of millions of iPhone and Android phone users even when they use a privacy setting to prevent it,” Jonathan Stempel reports for Reuters. “According to a complaint filed late Friday, Google falsely assures people they won’t be tracked if they turn the ‘Location History’ feature on their phones to ‘off,’ and instead violates their privacy by monitoring and storing their movements.”

“‘Google represented that a user ‘can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.’ This simply was not true,’ the complaint filed in San Francisco federal court said,” Stempel reports. “The plaintiff, Napoleon Patacsil of San Diego, is seeking class-action status on behalf of U.S. users of Android phones and Apple iPhones who turned the tracking feature off.”

“The alleged tracking by the unit of Mountain View, California-based Alphabet Inc was described in an Aug. 13 Associated Press article, which said it was confirmed by computer science researchers at Princeton University,” Stempel reports. “Patacsil claimed that Google illegally tracked him on his Android phone and later on his iPhone, where he had downloaded some Google apps. He said Google’s ‘principal goal’ was to ‘surreptitiously monitor’ phone users and let third parties do the same.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Patacsil upgraded to an Apple iPhone, likely seeking privacy, and all he got was more tracking. First mistake: The Android phone. Who knows the extent of personal data was lost during that span?! Second mistake: Polluting his iPhone with Google apps.

Here’s hoping somebody someday can finally reel in Google et al. as their thirst for personal data is insatiable!

At Apple, your trust means everything to us. That’s why we respect your privacy and protect it with strong encryption, plus strict policies that govern how all data is handled… A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realise that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, September 2014

This ‘don’t be evil’ mantra: It’s bullshit.Steve Jobs, 2010

Google tracks users movements even when explicitly told not to – Associated Press – August 13, 2018
New Android malware records ambient audio, fires off premium-rate texts, and harvests files, photos, contacts, and more – March 2, 2018
How Google is secretly recording Android settlers, monitoring millions of conversations every day and storing the creepy audio files – August 22, 2017
Android apps secretly tracking users by listening to inaudible sound hidden in ads – May 8, 2017
Edward Snowden: No matter what, do not use Google’s new Allo messenger app – September 23, 2016
Apple’s iOS 11 will deliver even more privacy to users – June 8, 2017
Google to pay $5.5 million for sneaking around Apple’s privacy settings to collect user data – August 31, 2016
Apple takes a swing at privacy-tampling, personal data-guzzling rivals like Google – September 29, 2015
Apple reinvents the privacy policy – September 29, 2015
Apple: Hey Siri and Live Photos data stays only on your device to ensure privacy – September 12, 2015
Apple issues iPhone manifesto; blasts Android’s lack of updates, lack of privacy, rampant malware – August 10, 2015
Edward Snowden supports Apple’s stance on customer privacy – June 17, 2015
Mossberg: Apple’s latest product is privacy – June 12, 2015
Apple looks to be building an alternative to the Google-branded, hand-over-your-privacy ‘Internet Experience’ – June 11, 2015
Understanding Apple and privacy – June 8, 2015
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple slams Google in Safari 7.1 release notes: ‘Adds DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track users’ – September 18, 2014
A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Google to pay $17 million to settle U.S. states’ Safari user tracking probe – November 20, 2013
Judge dismisses case against Google over Safari user tracking – October 11, 2013
UK Apple Safari users sue Google for secretly tracking Web browsing – January 28, 2013
Google pays $22.5 million to settle charges of bypassing Apple Safari privacy settings – August 9, 2012
US FTC votes to fine Google $22.5 million for bypassing Safari privacy settings; Settlement allows Google to admit no liability – July 31, 2012
Google’s D.C. lobbyists have outspent Apple nearly 10 to 1 so far this year – July 23, 2012
Google to pay $22.5 million to settle charges over bypassing privacy settings of millions of Apple users – July 10, 2012
Apple’s anti-user tracking policy has mobile advertisers scrambling – May 9, 2012
Google said to be negotiating amount of U.S. FTC fine over Apple Safari breach – May 4, 2012
Cookies and privacy, Google and Safari – February 25, 2012
Obama’s privacy plan puts pinch on Google – February 24, 2012
Obama administration outlines online privacy guidelines – February 23, 2012
Google sued by Apple Safari-user for bypassing browser privacy – February 21, 2012
Google responds to Microsoft over privacy issues, calls IE’s cookie policy ‘widely non-operational’ – February 21, 2012
Google’s tracking of Safari users could prompt FTC investigation – February 18, 2012
WSJ: Google tracked iPhone, iPad users, bypassing Apple’s Safari browser privacy settings; Microsoft denounces – February 17, 2012


  1. Maybe Tim can have the App Store pull out any and all google apps until they get their privacy in order. That would be a huge blow to that scumbag company and maybe make them send out app updates quickly that fixes these privacy breaches.

    Then….Apple can take their time reviewing the code to make sure there aren’t any other issues hidden in the code. It might take 1-2 weeks to review lol.

  2. Slurping up data when their Street Cars collected SSID’s? They said it was code accidentally left in that should have been removed. Deliberately circumventing Safari Do Not Track settings. Now this. When will google get properly punished?

    Stupid question. It’s always more profitable to do the dirty then pay the (relatively) small fine when they’re caught. Sheesh.

    1. “When will google get properly punished?”

      Google is a company which spends a colossal amount on political lobbying in America. Does anybody seriously imagine that they will be punished in America?

      Google also spends a lot of money lobbying in Europe, but as you can see from recent events, their money doesn’t buy them immunity from prosecution in Europe. Google was last month hit with a $5billion fine ( €4.34 billion ) for antitrust violations following Google requiring manufacturers to install its Google Search and Chrome apps as a condition for licensing Google’s app store.

      There are possibilities of further fines being imposed on Google for other violations, including this tracking scandal.

  3. Am I the only one who thinks Apple is also slightly complaisant in this. When I toggle the share location switch to ‘Only when using the app’ I would expect the OS to lock out the app from the location data.

    The reason I ask is how many other apps, both Google and non Google, are storing my location date, even while the Share My Location is set to “Off” or “Only While Useing The App”? Google got caught, but maybe others have not.

  4. The problem is that Google is able to acquire the tracking data from other sources. Store a picture on your Google drive with GPS data? you are tracked. Share your location on social media, you are tracked. Allow tracking from certain apps that have a relationship with Google, you are tracked. “Google” may have locations turned off, but that does not mean that they won’t still get the info.

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