How Are iPhone and Android Users Fighting Back Over Location-Sharing?

Forget emails to Steve Jobs and blog ranting, iPhone and Android users are taking their privacy complaints straight to the courtroom.  Two Michigan women have sued Google over location data collected by Android devices, just one week after fellow iPhone-maker Apple was named in a lawsuit citing privacy violations with its own data collection practices.

iPhones were revealed last month to be tracking and storing data on users’ locations, while Google’s Android phones were quickly after shown to be storing users’ location and data in a very similar way, both recording the users’ name, location and a phone identifier.

The $50 million lawsuit just filed against Google seeks to stop the company from selling mobile devices with software used to track a user’s location, the Detroit News reported.

The suit, filed on April 27, in U.S. District Court in Detroit claims that the phones tracked the two plaintiffs “just as if by a tracking device for which a court-ordered warrant would ordinarily be required.” Both women in the case use HTC Inspire 4G phones.

Their lawyer argues in the complaint that the tracking of Android owners’ location “puts users at serious risk of privacy invasions, including stalking.”

Google has acknowledged that Android phones temporarily store some location-based information – including GPS location, timestamps and device IDS – but stands firm that the information is not traceable, and is optional for users.

“All location sharing on Android is opt-in by the user,” a Google spokesperson told All Things D. “We provide users with notice and control over the collection, sharing and use of location in order to provide a better mobile experience on Android devices. Any location data that is sent back to Google location servers is anonymized and is not tied or traceable to a specific user.”

The suit against Google follows a similar class-action suit brought by two men in Florida targeting Apple for alleged invasion of privacy and computer fraud.

Their lawsuit seeks class action status and accuses Apple of violating privacy laws and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by keeping a log of user locations without proper consent from users.

Apple has been quiet on the issue, minus a reported email from CEO Steve Jobs, but finally spoke, explaining in an FAQ that its data collection is for an eventual traffic database.

The company blamed a software bug for storing an excess amount of the data, however, on the individual iPhone and iPad devices.




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