Google accused of spying on users with Android Lockbox to build a TikTok like App

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Putative Class Action filed against Google for ‘Spying’ on user’s App use with Android Lockbox alleges Google collecting data to build a TikTok like App

A new lawsuit accuses Google of monitoring the usage of Android smartphone owners without their knowledge or consent. The putative privacy class-action lawsuit filed in California federal court on Wednesday says that Google intends to use the harvested data to build a TikTok like short video uploading App.

The class-action suit filed by New York resident, Robert McCoy alleges Google of using Android Lockbox to spy on Android users. It accuses Google of “spying” on how the Android users interact with other Apps installed on their smartphones without their knowledge or consent. The lawsuit alleges Google collects Android users ‘ sensitive data and information and will use this very information for building a TikTok rival.

Currently, TikTok short video uploading App ranks among the most popular Apps in America with more than 100 million users. However, it is under fire for its lax data protection policies. In fact, President Trump on Thursday invoked his emergency economic powers to impose broad sanctions against TikTok. In the order, which takes effect in 45 days, any transactions between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and U.S. citizens will be outlawed for national security reasons. Microsoft has already shown interest in acquiring TikTok America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and is expected to complete the deal by 15th September.

Big American tech firms are already lining up TikTok like short video uploading App to fill the vacuum in case TikTok is banned. Facebook is readying its Instagram Reels for mass release throughout the world after months of testing.

Robert McCoy vs Google LLC putative privacy class-action lawsuit

Robert McCoy has filed the putative privacy class-action lawsuit against Google LLC in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiff seeks damages from Google under California’s Consumer Privacy Law (CPA) and alleges that “Android Lockbox” spies on Android users even if they are not signed in to Google.

The lawsuit relies on the recent media reports that state “Android Lockbox” keeps track of basic app stats like launch frequency and session duration, as well as usage at a per-country level. A report in The Information described Android Lockbox as a “service that collects sensitive Android user data,” though it is anonymized and not tied to individual accounts. The report also said that Google has employed a group of employees called the “Magic Eye” team that’s tasked with tracking first-party app usage and leverages Lockbox data to brief executives on how third-party services compare.

The lawsuit alleges that this Android Lockbox  “allows Google employees to spy on how Android Smartphone users interact with non-Google apps.” The plaintiff claims that the “sensitive personal data” on his Android phone, including data related to his use of TikTok, was “secretively collected by Google.” In doing so, Google violated various privacy and consumer protection laws, including California’s new sweeping Consumer Privacy Act, he alleges.

The lawsuit also claims that Google’s privacy policy and disclosures about its data collection are insufficient. “Never is it disclosed that Google actually monitors, collects, and uses sensitive personal data when Android Smartphone users use non-Google apps,” the complaint alleges. “Google’s true purpose of obtaining plaintiff’s and class members’ sensitive personal data is to obtain lucrative behind the scenes technical insight that it can use to develop competing apps against its competitors.”

Google has not commented on the issue so far.

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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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