- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A lawsuit seeking class-action status accused Google of violating federal wiretapping law and tracking users’ app usage, communications and personal information after users attempted to opt-out of giving Google permission.

Google has been hit with an onslaught of litigation alleging it is bypassing a series of privacy restrictions and is deceiving its users in recent months. Last month, Google was accused of improperly collecting users’ search history in a lawsuit seeking $5 billion in damages, and Arizona sued Google in May for using deceitful tactics to access users’ location data.

The new lawsuit filed Tuesday by attorneys from the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner in federal court in the Northern District of California alleged that Google tracks activity on third-party applications that have no formal affiliation with Google. The suit was brought on behalf of Google users in California and Florida.

“Google knowingly and intentionally tracked, and continues to track, plaintiffs regardless of plaintiffs’ directives to Google and no matter how sensitive or personal their online app activities are,” the lawsuit said. “By accessing plaintiffs’ mobile devices and tracking, collecting, and intercepting plaintiffs’ personal communications — regardless of whether plaintiffs have attempted to avoid such a tracking pursuant to Google’s instructions — Google has gained a complete, cradle-to-grave profile of plaintiffs without their knowledge and contrary to their expressed denial of consent.”

Google declined to comment on the lawsuit brought by Boies Schiller this week.

Boies Schiller attorneys are also responsible for the lawsuit last month that alleged Google was collecting and keeping information on users who use a private setting, “Incognito” mode. Google said at the time it strongly disputed Boies Schiller’s claims and pledged to “defend ourselves vigorously” against them.

Boies Schiller, a large law firm with annual revenues reported to be in excess of $400 million, has mounted the litigation against Google while also having represented some of Google’s competitors. Boies Schiller attorneys have previously represented Oracle, which has an ongoing case against Google pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and has represented Amazon, according to the company’s website.

Google not only faces challenges from a high-powered law firm, the State of Arizona, and before the Supreme Court, but it is also the subject of new congressional scrutiny. On Tuesday, a Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee wrote to Google’s CEO to get Google to force app developers to turn over information on data privacy to their users amid national security concerns.

Later this month, the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is expected to testify at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on antitrust issues.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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