Google is being sued again for tracking your app activity even when you tell it not to
This, sadly, doesn’t surprise me.
After Google was accused of tracking people in Incognito mode last month, the same law firm is back at it, this time suing the company for tracking customers’ apps, even if they opt-out of sharing their location and data.
According to Reuters, the lawsuit comes from the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner. Reuters notes it’s on “behalf of a handful of individual consumers,” and that the law firm has previously worked with Google competitors like Facebook and Oracle.
Essentially, the lawsuit claims that Google is looking at many of your apps and app usage, even if you have “Web & App Activity” tracking turned off in your Google account settings.
“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 notes.
So, how is the company tracking you? The answer is Google’s Firebase, according to the lawsuit. This is software that is included in many apps and is used by the apps to store a variety of data. It is also used to deliver notifications, ads, and track app issues. The Firebase SDK is a requirement for app developers that want to access things like Google Analytics, marketing on the Play Store, and more.
It is Firebase that the lawsuit claims gives the company access to the very same data tracking you thought you were blocking by turning off “Web & App Activity.”
Honestly, I’m not sure I’m surprised by the claims. Sadly, I’ve just come to assume I’m being tracked when I use my smartphone. I shouldn’t be so nonchalant about it, but 2020 has been exhausting.
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