Apple, Google Face Private Lawsuits over Location Data Collection

Lora Bentley

Last week, regulators in both the European Union and the U.S. indicated they are looking into location data collection practices at both Apple and Google. Though said collection is not new, it came to the forefront again last month after researchers found that the latest version of Apple's iOS saves location data in a "hidden" file.


Both companies have committed to testifying before a new Senate privacy panel chaired by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on May 10. Now both are also facing lawsuits from users over the data collection practices. Bloomberg reports two users in Florida filed suit against Apple; Google's suit was brought by users in Michigan, according to Tom's Guide.


The plaintiffs in both cases are arguing essentially the same thing: The companies should not be tracking users' locations without their knowledge and consent. Law enforcement can only do such tracking with a warrant, they say. Apple and Google should be subjected to at least the same standard.


In response to media coverage and consumer questions on the issue, Apple released frequently asked questions and answers in which it explained why the data is collected and how the collection will be addressed in future software updates. In its statement, Apple said:

Sometime in the next few weeks Apple will release a free iOS software update that: reduces the size of the crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower database cached on the iPhone, ceases backing up this cache, and deletes this cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

Whether the changes will be enough to mollify the plaintiffs in the case against Apple remains to be seen. Google has yet to comment on its lawsuit.

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