Google in trouble again; slapped with lawsuit for data breach

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Google’s Alphabet Inc. tracks what users are doing on hundreds of thousands of smartphone devices even though they follow the company’s approved settings to avoid such surveillance, a complaint alleged seeking class-action status.

This is the second data privacy lawsuit Google is facing from the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner in as many months and has denied offering any comments.

The firm slapped the lawsuit on behalf of a handful of individual consumers. Further, Google competitors such as Facebook Inc and Oracle Corp have also been included by the clients of Boies Schiller Flexner.

The latest suit in the U.S accuses Google of breaching multiple privacy laws by logging into news, ride-hailing and other forms of apps that users are looking at even after having switched off “Web & App Activity” tracking in their Google account settings.

The complaint alleges that the data collection takes place through Google’s Firebase, a common software among app makers used to store data, deliver alerts and ads, and monitor clicks and glitches. Generally, Firebase works inside applications and is invisible to customers.

Firebase is a mobile and web application development platform developed by Firebase, Inc. in 2011, then acquired by Google in 2014. As of March 2020, the Firebase platform has 19 products, which are used by more than 1.5 million apps.

“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 contends.

Google uses some Firebase data to improve its products and personalize ads and other content for consumers, according to the lawsuit.

The U.S. antitrust regulators began to investigate in March whether Google has unfairly stifled competition in ads and other industries by making Firebase unavoidable.

In its case last month, Boies Schiller Flexner accused Google of randomly tracking the behavior of Chrome browser users even though they turned on what Google calls Incognito mode. Google had denied this claim.