and Google have both been hit with lawsuits claiming that the Silicon
Valley giants secretly track their users’ locations against their will
and use the information to pad its advertising business.
class action complaint against Facebook, which was filed by Brett
Heeger last Friday in San Francisco federal court, said the social
network tracks its users even after they’ve opted out of its “Location
secretly tracks, logs, and stores location data for all of its
users–including those who have sought to limit the information about
their locations that Facebook may store in its servers by choosing to
turn Location History off,” the suit said. “Because Facebook misleads
users and engages in this deceptive practice, collecting and storing
private location data against users’ expressed choice, Plaintiff
brings this class action on behalf of himself and similarly situated
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said users aren’t aware of Facebook’s “secret tracking” unless they
download their data from the company and search “multiple levels of
obscure folders.” He claimed he set up his privacy settings to stop
Facebook from tracking his location, but the company continued to do
so. Facebook used “estimated locations,” using his IP address and WiFi
data, to continue tracking his location, Heeger claimed. The action
violated federal and state wiretapping laws, according to the suit.
benefited from tracking Heeger, the suit claimed, because the company
makes money off location-based advertisements. The complaint seeks
unspecified monetary damages.
in a statement to TheWrap, pushed back against the lawsuit, saying its
location tracking policy has always been transparent.
Data Policy and related disclosures explain our practices
relating to location data and provide information about the privacy
settings we make available,” a Facebook spokesperson told TheWrap.
“This lawsuit is without merit and we will defend ourselves
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lawsuit follows a similar complaint against Google, which was filed on
Oct. 12. in San Francisco federal court. The suit claims that Google
“intentionally provided inaccurate instructions” for its users to turn
off its own “Location History” feature.
explicitly represented that its users could prevent Google from
tracking their location data by disabling a feature called ‘Location
History’ on their devices. Google stated: ‘With Location History off,
the places you go are no longer stored.’ This statement is false,” the
lawsuit claimed. “Turning off the ‘Location History’ setting merely
stops Google from adding new locations to the ‘timeline’ accessible by
users. In secret, Google was still tracking, storing, and monetizing
all the same information.”
users have to navigate a labyrinth to reach the correct “Web
& Activity” page to turn off location tracking — a page “Google’s
instructions intentionally omit all references to,” according to the
class action complaint. The suit points to an Aug. 13 report from
Press that brought Google’s tracking policies
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“secret trick,” allowing the company to continue monitoring its
billions of users, violated California privacy law and the state’s
right to privacy, according to the suit.
suit is seeking monetary damages and an injunction against Google
continuing the practices.
did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the
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the AP’s report, Google updated its location tracking policy to “make
it more consistent and clear,” the company told
TheWrap in August.