Lawsuit Seeking Class Action Status Claims Google Tracked Location History of Millions of Users with Location Services Turned Off

Napoleon Patacsil of San Diego recently filed a lawsuit against Google after the tech company admitted to tracking the location history of even users who have turned off location services. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in San Francisco and seeks class action status, arguing that Google violated California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, as well as its constitutionally protected right to privacy.

If granted class action status, the lawsuit could encompass millions of people in the United States that Google tracked, even though they turned off Location History. “Android Class” and “iPhone Class” are two of the sought-after classes, meaning this lawsuit could extend beyond desktop users to also include mobile users. It could take several months for a judge to determine that the lawsuit is eligible for class action status.

Additionally, attorneys from the Electronic Privacy Information Center sent a letter to the Fair Trade Commission, stating that Google’s practices violate a 2011 consent order where Google consented that it would not misrepresent the purposes and uses of information for which it collects and the extent that its users may control how Google collects, uses, or discloses such information.

Google’s policy previously stated that Location History could be turned off whenever a user wishes and that no history would be saved at times that it is turned off. This ultimately ended up being false. Once information about how Google tracked its users’ locations surfaced, the company edited the policy listed on its website to clarify that some of its location data might be saved as a portion of a user’s activities on Search, Maps, and other services. It appears that rather than discontinuing the practice, Google has chosen instead simply to edit and clarify its policy in advance of a judge’s decision on whether to grant Patacsil’s lawsuit class action status.

Additional Reading:

Docket report for Patacsil v. Google, Inc., via Justia Dockets

Google Sued For Tracking Location History Of Users With Location Turned Off,, August 21, 2018

FTC Charges Deception Privacy Practices in Google’s Rollout of its Buzz Social Network,, March 30, 2011

Electronic Privacy Information Center website

Photo Credit: Radu Bercan /