Google faces privacy lawsuit over tracking users in apps without consent

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Google logo (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A data privacy lawsuit has accused Google of tracking users in apps and collecting their data even after they turn off "Web & App Activity" tracking.
  • Google apparently uses its Firebase SDK to "illegally" collect data from mobile users.
  • Antitrust investigators in the U.S. are already probing the search giant's advertising practices.

Last month, Google was hit with a $5 billion lawsuit for "illegally" tracking millions of users in Incognito Mode by law firm Boies Schiller Flexner. The search giant has now been slapped with another lawsuit by the law firm, accusing it of collecting data from mobile users, despite them having turned off "Web & App Activity" tracking in their Google account settings (via Reuters).

The lawsuit, which is seeking class action status, contends Google is in violation of the federal wiretap and California privacy laws as the search giant illicitly "records what people are doing" even on thousands of third-party apps. The complaint alleges Google uses its Firebase SDK to collect the data, which runs inside other apps and is invisible to consumers.

The SDK is aimed at helping developers do things like monetize their apps with AdMob, learn how users are engaging with their apps, track glitches, and more. Google apparently uses the data collected using Firebase to not just improve its products, but also personalize ads for users.

"Even when consumers follow Google's own instructions and turn off 'Web & App Activity' tracking on their 'Privacy Controls,' Google nevertheless continues to intercept consumers' app usage and app browsing communications and personal information," the lawsuit claims.

Security isn't privacy, and you can have one without the other

Babu Mohan
News Writer