Two Michigan women, Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski, have sued Google in a class action lawsuit stemming from the location-tracking technology included in the Android smart phone operating system. The plaintiffs allege in the complaint that the “Android Operating System phones log, record and store users’ locations based on latitude and longitude alongside a timestamp and unique device ID attached to each specific phone.” The plaintiffs further claim that the “phones store this information in a file located on the phone, which allows Google to use cell-tower triangulation or potentially a global positioning system to obtain a user’s location.” Google has upheld that the collection of the location data is entirely opt-in, in which “we [Google] provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices,” Google spokesperson Randall Safara stated last week. The lawsuit arises from similar news, last month, in which two researchers said that location information for the Apple iPhone was stored in an unencrypted file that was backed up onto any device during the syncing process of an Apple iPhone (http://radar.oreilly.com/2011/04/apple-location-tracking.html). Apple and Google have both been asked to attend a Senate Hearing on mobile device privacy on May 10 at 10am EDT in Washington, where witnesses from the US Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Center for Democracy and Technology, and others will talk about what the latest mobile technology means for privacy and the law.
For a copy of the complaint, click here