A class action was brought against Google on Tuesday. The tech giant is accused of invading the privacy of millions of users without their knowledge by tracking their use of the Internet, even when they have activated private browsing.
Lack of consent
The lawsuit, filed with the Northern California District Court, claims that Google tracks user browsing data and other identifying information through Google Analytics, Google Ad Manager, and various other plug-ins. applications and websites, such as Google applications on mobile devices or the Google connection button for websites, regardless of the navigation mode chosen.
According to the complainants, when a user visits a web page or opens an application that uses Google’s services – which would be used by more than 70% of online content publishers – the user’s personal information, such as his address IP, what it looks at, what it last saw and details about its hardware, are sent to the company’s servers in California.
The complainants added that this is almost always done without the knowledge of the user because Google does not require websites that they disclose at the outset that Google collects information about visitors, regardless of how web browsers are used. For this reason, the class action accuses Google of accessing personal information of people without their consent.
“Google retrieves data regardless of whether or not the user clicks on an ad warning that the site is supported by Google – or even that they are aware of it. Thus, billions of times a day, computers around the world send Google real-time navigation information to hundreds of millions of people, “the complaint said.
A class action to compensate users
“Google’s practices invade the privacy of users, intentionally deceive consumers, give Google and its employees the power to know intimate details about the lives of individuals, their interests and their use of the Internet, and make Google a “single choice” for any government, private or criminal actor who wishes to infringe on the privacy, security or liberty of people “, continue the complainants.
The class action will be open to anyone who has an Android device and who has visited a website containing Google Analytics or Ad Manager in private browsing mode on this device, as well as to people with a Google account and who have accessed a web page containing these services using a non-Android device in incognito mode.
The class action is aimed at obtaining $ 5,000 in damages per user, or three times the actual damages, whichever is greater, for invasion of privacy, and should involve “millions of individuals”.
Google faces other complaints on the same subject
The Arizona Attorney General also filed a lawsuit against the company last week, alleging that the company misled users, based on various sources of location data. The complaint suspects Google of designing its Android operating system in such a way that even when consumers deactivate location services, several location data – including those from Google Maps, Weather or even search data – are always collected.
Google is also the subject of litigation in Australia and the United Kingdom, where it is accused of having carried out deceptive and deceptive tracking practices.
The internet giant also lost $ 170 million last fall in a lawsuit that accused the company of illegally collecting personal information from children via YouTube.