Google faces class action suit for tracking cell phone locations

This Wednesday, April 26, 2017 file photo shows a Google icon on a mobile phone, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

A class action privacy lawsuit against Google was filed in federal court in San Francisco Friday, claiming that the technology giant continued to track the location of cell phone users after they turned off tracking.

The lawsuit alleges that Google tracked users’ geolocation through its Android mobile operating system and related apps even when settings were purportedly supposed to protect user privacy.

“Despite users’ attempts to protect their location privacy, Google collects and stores users’ location data, thereby invading users’ reasonable expectations of privacy, counter to Google’s own representations about how users can configure Google’s products to prevent such egregious privacy violations,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit comes after an Associated Press investigative story published Monday explained that even when location tracking is turned off, it may still be used by some Google apps.

Plaintiff Napoleon Patacsil states in the complaint that Google apps on his iPhone continued to track his location after he turned the apps’ Location History storage option off. Patacsil said that Google continued to track him even after its website stated that turning off location tracking in an account turns off “all devices associated with that Google Account.”

“Google’s representation was false. As recently publicly revealed, turning off “Location History” only stopped Google from creating a location timeline that the user could view,” the complaint states. “Google, however, continues to track the phone owners and keep a record of their locations.”

The lawsuit claims that Google violated federal law by tracking individual geolocations without permission, referring to a Federal Trade Commission law that calls it a “deceptive trade practice.”

Additionally, Patascil claims that the practice violates the California Invasion of Privacy Act and California’s constitutional right to privacy.

In addition to damages, Patascil seeks a court order demanding that Google destroy all data captured from its geolocation tracking technology of the plaintiff and class members.

Patascil is represented by Michael Sobol and Nicholas Diamand of Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein and Hank Bates of Carney Bates and Pulliam. A call to his attorneys and to Google for comment were made after business hours and not immediately returned Friday evening.