Android Users Nail Down Privacy Breach Claims

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Android users who say Google invaded their privacy by collecting and distributing personal information now claim that the company also shared their names and contact information with app developers.
     The original complaint accused Google of using hidden code in programs such as Angry Birds and Foursquare to collect information about the app users to build behavioral profiles of the users for the purposes of targeted advertising. Among other things, Google allegedly collected users’ zip codes, application activity, geolocation data and unique device identifiers.
     In March, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White found that the consumers in the multidistrict privacy litigation failed to adequately support their claims under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California’s Unfair Competition Law. He granted the consumers the right to amend their complaint.
     The new complaint includes added allegations that Google provided app developers with personally identifying user information, including names, email addresses and home addresses after the user purchased the developer’s app.
     In addition, the suit claims that Google “has taken affirmative steps to decrease users’ ability to limit the amount of personal and location data that is shared. In March 2013, Google removed from Google Play AdBlock Plus, an app that limited access to private data of Android users. Previously available on Google Play, AdBlock Plus allowed users to block ads and prevent third party tracking of their phones.”
     The users allegedly did not provide consent for third parties to collect their personal and personally identifiable information, and relied on Google’s statements that their personal information would be kept secure.
     “Based on the representations in Google’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policies, plaintiffs and other class members did not expect that their personal information, including their phone use habits and their location, would be collected and shared..” the complaint states.
     “Defendants failed to abide by its own Terms of Service and Privacy Policies and allowed plaintiffs’ and other class members’ personal information to be accessed for inappropriate purposes and by third parties,” it continues.
     The complaint also clarifies how Google’s sharing of information with app developers depletes Android batteries and consumes data. Google allegedly determines an Android’s location data with GPS satellite position data, a process that “is resource intensive and consumes battery life on Android mobile phones,” the complaint states.
     “Not only did defendant’s actions cause plaintiffs and other class members’ Android Mobile Phone batteries to discharge more quickly, rendering the Android Mobile Phones less useful given their unexpected power consumption, but they interrupted plaintiffs’ and class members’ services,” the complaint states.
     Google’s actions also cause the phones’ batteries to discharge more quickly and shorten the life of the batteries, necessitating their earlier replacement. The cost of new batteries is as much as $70, according to the complaint.

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