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Android phone owners sue Google for $50m over location data

updated 11:25 am EDT, Fri April 29, 2011

Lawsuit hits Google over Android location tracking

Google faced some of the backlash from the iPhone location data debate this week after a lawsuit was filed against the company over Android's location tracking. The Michigan complaint from Julie Brown and partner, a possible class action, accused Google of excessively detailed tracking. Android 2.2 on their HTC Inspire 4G phones was tracking with the level of frequency and precision of a "tracking device for which a court-ordered warrant would ordinarily be required," Brown said.

The lawsuit demanded $50 million in damages along with whatever might go out to individual phone owners in the event the case is deemed a class action. It would further require Google to stop tracking positions, a move that could require a significant overhaul of Android.

Google for its part has maintained that its requests are opt-in and thus that any tracking it does is with a phone owner's consent. Critics, including Skyhook's CEO, have said alternately that the consent isn't obvious and that Android is collecting much more detail both compared to iOS and what users were expecting.

Brown's pursuit drags Google into the same legal trouble as Apple, which was slapped with its own lawsuit earlier the same week. The merit of the respective cases was difficult to determine at the early stage, although the case against Apple was filed before it offered an official explanation.

Both Apple and Google will have to answer questions at a May 10 hearing that could lead to further government action if the session raises concerns.

By Electronista Staff


  1. DeezNutts

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008


    Don't trust Skyhook CEO

    Not that he is not a nice guy or anything like that but he runs a company who's main product is a "location data" framework for android an other devices.

    I'm sure its not in his best interest at all to make claims about Google data mining. I mean what could happen? His product looks more attractive to developers?

    Nah this guy is 100% impartial!

  1. Peter Bonte

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001


    i don't get it

    GSM providers also track the phones with cell towers and the police uses it to track people without a warrant, why is this worse?

  1. gor3don

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2005


    But, but...

    the guy who emailed Steve Jobs about this said Android doesn't track.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Jul 2004


    Not a fan of Google but...

    If you don't want location data, turn it off or if that is not possible don't get an Android phone or just stick with dumb phones if you are so damn paranoid.

    Here is a newsflash for the tinfoil hatters, most of you are too damn boring for anyone to be interested in spying on you. Your privacy is ensured by the fact that you are unremarkable. You are not as special as you seem to think you are.

    In a nutshell, nobody cares about tracking you.

  1. kerryb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001


    the loss of privacy and tracking

    I'm no sure it is possible to "disappear" these days for even an hour. I'm not talking about men in black suits with matching helicopters but what we as a society have willfully given with need to be constantly "in touch" with our friends and family and the fear pill most of us swallowed making us think we will find ourselves in life threatening situations each day and our only savior would be the availability of a cellphone. Every you buy a product of service with a credit / debit card someone is gathering that information. If you use cable tv every channel selection is a piece of data going somewhere. Is it all malicious no. Is it used to profile and make us better consumers, yes.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007


    Re: ...make us better consumers?

    Really? I doubt that assertion highly.

    So, what else you got?

    I'd like not to be profiled, or "made a better consumer," please.

    How do I turn that off? THAT is the question.

    You also suggest that you know the collection of data is not malicious. Define malicious. Describe to us how you know.

    I am personally unaware of intentional misuse, at this time. I do not know it doesn't occur.

  1. SockRolid

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Jan 2010


    Cheer up, fandroids

    $50 million is just a drop in the bucket compared to the damage the Oracle lawsuit will do.

    Best case scenario: Google pays Oracle for each and every copy of Android ever shipped.

    Worst case scenario: all Android software will be "impounded and destroyed" as required by the suit.

    Yup, the whole Dalvik JVM clone fiasco is probably Google's biggest bag of hurt at the moment.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009


    Two Women

    from Michigan trying to get rich off the hard work of others.

    As aristotles said. Don't like location tracking? Turn it off.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Apr 2011


    Gess What...

  1. mrrwthird


    Joined: Feb 2008



    Mine's off all the time, and my database size is 0. Even so, I'd have to have rooted it for any apps to gain access to that database.

    Turn your i device location services off, and your database size continues to grow, and any app *STILL* has access to it.

    See why this is worlds apart?

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