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Google Power Privacy The Courts

Privacy Lawsuit Against Google Rests On Battery Drain Claims 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the discovery-will-be-powered-by-bing dept.
Jason Koebler writes: According to plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Google, personal information about you and your browsing, email, and app-using habits that is regularly sent between apps on you Android phone is harming your battery life. As odd as it sounds, this minor yet demonstrable harm is what will allow their lawsuit to go forward. A federal judge ruled that the claim "requires a heavily and inherently fact-bound inquiry." That means there's a good chance we're about to get a look into the ins and outs of Google's advertising backbone: what information is shared with whom, and when.
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Privacy Lawsuit Against Google Rests On Battery Drain Claims

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  • ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @04:31AM (#47513953)

    Ads are also draining my battery...

  • Privacy is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qbast (1265706) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @04:36AM (#47513969)
    So in other words your privacy is worthless as judge decided that loss of privacy is not 'demonstrable harm'.
  • Re:Privacy is dead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AudioEfex (637163) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @05:00AM (#47514051)

    I'm sorry but anyone who is idiot enough to have an Android phone and DOESN'T know that of course since you sign into your Goggle account with it the same damn data sharing is going to happen just like wherever you use their services on any device is, well, an idiot. The question is, though, what harm comes from that - and that's up to each user to decide when they choose to use it or not. Since users sign up for and consent to the service - I see why it takes an actual technicality like this to make it actionable (even if it does highlight the often absurdity of our legal system).

    Basically, I know it's all cool to get all up in arms about this stuff and the principle, etc., but the truth is - if you are going to use a single commercial device to access your entire data "life", and if you use Google services in particular, you know what you are getting at this point. It's those ads that pay for Goggle to give so many of it's services away for free. It may be wrong, it may be right, it really doesn't matter because it's the very definition of "it is what it is". It's the price you pay for using a "smart" phone because you won't find one that doesn't have privacy implications. As a user you decide - is the convenience/cache of owning one worth it? If the answer is no, go get yourself a "feature" phone burner and replace it once a month, or however often your paranoia leads you to do so - and don't access any data services on it.

    My guess is, 99% of the folks who are going to make comments about this and bemoan privacy have smartphones - they are not necessary, they are a convenience/luxury - one that I use, but if I really was so concerned I wouldn't have one, or use Goggle's services - much less an OS designed by them - or iOS and their Cloud shit, etc. It's a trade off of modern life, if you want the cool toys, you can't play anonymous secret super agent spy. (Which leads to the "what are you doing that makes you think anyone gives a fuck" question, but that is a separate issue entirely.)

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @05:16AM (#47514089)

    The lawsuit also rides on the fact that these people bought Android phones at a time when Google already knew (but was not telling anyone) that it would be changing its privacy policy. By being forced to replace their devices - which automatically had the new policy applied to them - the customers have been demonstrably harmed. In fact this appears in the paperwork before the battery drain issue.

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @05:23AM (#47514117)

    One of the more important words used in law is "reasonable". The phrases "reasonable man" and "reasonable care" are used particularly often. I'd bet the concept applies in about half of all civil suits. If a court rules that a product should be reasonably efficient (and reasonably durable, reasonably effective, etc) that it no way means that it has to be perfectly optimized.

    Consider if a product, perhaps a car, tended to fall apart after just a few months of use. You'd expect lawsuits, and the plaintiffs would have a valid claim because a car should be reasonably durable. That doesn't mean all cars need to be built like a Sherman tank. This is well established law, applied in many contexts. In fact, the only area I can think of where we've gotten away from a reasonableness standard is medical malpractice. By statute, that's supposed to be a similar standard, but juries have moved toward expecting medical professionals to be perfect, not just act reasonably.

  • Re:Privacy is dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by qbast (1265706) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @05:51AM (#47514189)

    I'm sorry but anyone who is idiot enough to have an Android phone and DOESN'T know that of course since you sign into your Goggle account with it the same damn data sharing is going to happen just like wherever you use their services on any device is, well, an idiot.

    So you were walking around in the evening and got mugged? Why do you even try to complain, it is your fault.

    The question is, though, what harm comes from that - and that's up to each user to decide when they choose to use it or not. Since users sign up for and consent to the service - I see why it takes an actual technicality like this to make it actionable (even if it does highlight the often absurdity of our legal system).

    Ah yes, "I consent that company does whatever they damn please to me" click-through "agreements". It is now even possible to 'agree' to binding arbitration (and waive your right to class action lawsuit), which shows how much the whole idea is broken.

    Basically, I know it's all cool to get all up in arms about this stuff and the principle, etc., but the truth is - if you are going to use a single commercial device to access your entire data "life", and if you use Google services in particular, you know what you are getting at this point. It's those ads that pay for Goggle to give so many of it's services away for free. It may be wrong, it may be right, it really doesn't matter because it's the very definition of "it is what it is".

    Yes. I know what *is*, I don't like it and I want to change it. This lawsuit is one attempt to make this change.

    It's the price you pay for using a "smart" phone because you won't find one that doesn't have privacy implications. As a user you decide - is the convenience/cache of owning one worth it? If the answer is no, go get yourself a "feature" phone burner and replace it once a month, or however often your paranoia leads you to do so - and don't access any data services on it.

    No, the price I paid was in dollars. I don't see any reason to include my privacy, my dog or any random thing that phone manufacturer or Google would want of me.

    My guess is, 99% of the folks who are going to make comments about this and bemoan privacy have smartphones - they are not necessary, they are a convenience/luxury - one that I use, but if I really was so concerned I wouldn't have one, or use Goggle's services - much less an OS designed by them - or iOS and their Cloud shit, etc.

    The same exact reasoning to justify TSA. "Plane is a convenience, go by train if you don't like it'. TSA now invading train stations? Well, train is a convenience too, go by car. Plate-reading cameras everywhere recording everywhere you go? Oh just stay in home until you learn to love big brother. Most of 'implications' are not technical requirements - they are there mostly because people like you just bend over and take it in the ass without even daring to complain.

    It's a trade off of modern life, if you want the cool toys, you can't play anonymous secret super agent spy. (Which leads to the "what are you doing that makes you think anyone gives a fuck" question, but that is a separate issue entirely.)

    Obvious answer is that I don't know if in 5 years I will be doing something important enough. In this case I would rather not have my whole life reported in great detail, ready to mine for possible blackmail opportunities or smear campaign.

  • Re:ads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @06:18AM (#47514247)
    MUCH more importantly, though, ads are draining your BANDWIDTH. It's important, because it's also a simple demonstrable harm. If you pay $30 per month for your internet bandwidth, and the ads use up half of it (conservative estimate), then ads are harming you at the rate of $15 per month. Because Google purposely don't allow you to block the ads in android (*), that is a clear, monetary, demonstrable, harm.

    (*) Google should be forced to put a big red button on their settings that will block all ads coming into the android device, and all in-app advertising traffic, if the user presses it. It should be force to do so or else be held as an accomplice on bandwidth theft. (**)

    (**) Yes, I know, I'm dreaming. But I'd support a class action suit that would aim to accomplish this.

  • Re:ads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Smallpond (221300) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @06:34AM (#47514311) Homepage Journal

    Because Google should not be in business to make money. They should just give you free stuff.

  • Re:Privacy is dead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @06:34AM (#47514313)

    > Basically, I know it's all cool to get all up in arms about this stuff and the principle, etc.

    It's not cool. It's simply my fucking duty towards society. And yours too, btw.

  • Re:ads (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @06:51AM (#47514391)

    well, no. That "disable all advertising" could also disable all of google's apps, if google wishes not to give away stuff for free, for example. The device is usable, just none of the google apps, like gmail, etc. would work. And yes, that pretty much cripples the device, but at least the option would be there...and perhaps there would be alternative apps (even for purchase kind) that would lack that data feedback that current phones/apps have.

    How come I can turn on and use my computer without having any adware running on it, and I can't do that with a phone?

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @07:49AM (#47514623) Homepage

    "How come I can turn on and use my computer without having any adware running on it, and I can't do that with a phone?"

    Because you made a choice for which you refuse to take responsibility. If you want Android, but don't want Google Apps, you simply get a phone that is configured as such. Stop whining that you bought a product and it is doing what it is designed to do. If you don't like Apple's Walled Garden, don't buy Apple. If you don't like Google apps, buy a phone that doesn't bundle them and then don't install them. You are making a choice, and then crying like a little girl that you made the wrong choice (for you and a small handful of others, that is) and want Googe to eat the cost of your ignorance.

  • Re:Privacy is dead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @07:55AM (#47514657) Homepage

    The same exact reasoning to justify TSA

    They're incomparable. TSA is mandated by governments, you have no choice in the matter. Using a particular brand of smartphone is not. You are free to use a smartphone that doesn't use Google services and indeed are free to buy a Nexus 5 and then say "no" to the billion and one "trade data for feature?" prompts that appear when switched on the first time. No government goon is going to step in and insist that you send all your data to Google.

    In fact, if you would prefer a smartphone that has a different data/features tradeoff then - conveniently! - Google provides a rather good open source operating system for free that you can use to build one. If others feel the same way you do you can even sell them without paying Google a dime.

  • Re:ads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:53AM (#47515057)

    Ads aren't harming you, you trade bandwidth and eyeball time to receive free stuff, and unlike cable tv most apps are either ad supported or paid, precious few require you to pay in both ways.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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