Dutch claims foundation launches privacy case against Google

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A Dutch claims foundation is pressing ahead with a class action case against Google, arguing that the Android technology on its smartphones is being used to collect information about users without their consent. 

This means that Google is breaking privacy legislation, the Massaschade & Consument foundation says. Google has dismissed the claim as being opportunistic and speculative.

The foundation, which is also involved in a case against social media platform TikTok, says Google must introduce changes in Android which allow users to opt out of all forms of data collection.

It also plans to claim damages for duped Android users, of whom there are some nine million in the Netherlands. 

The foundation’s researchers have analysed data collection via a variety of Android phones bought and tested since 2022. It says the research shows Google has added a special app to Android phones known as Google Play Services which follows other app use and which cannot be removed. 

This, the foundation says, means Google knows what apps a phone owner uses and when, as well as where they are and who they have spoken to by phone. “The data that we produce via our smartphones on a daily bases gives an accurate picture of our choices and the way we spend our time,” foundation chairwoman Lucia Melcherts told the Financieele Dagblad.

Google describes the claims as misleading. “Like some of the other class action suits we have seen in the Netherlands recently, this is speculative and opportunistic,” a spokesman told the FD. 

The Netherlands introduced legislation in 2020 that makes it possible for consumers to take legal action against companies and demand collective damages. 

The consumers’ association Consumentenbond and a privacy campaign group have also launched cases against Google

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