A British Android Smartphone Owner Sues Google Over Privacy Policy Bait-And-Switch

 Google’s new company slogan should be: “Another Day – Another Lawsuit”

As more and more people start waking up from their blissful slumber, expect to see more legal nightmares for Google. After Google deliberately bypassed the privacy and security settings of Apple’s Safari web browser so that Google could spy on those users – several Apple Safari users filed a class-action lawsuit against Google for violating their privacy and intentionally exposing them to other potential threats.

Well now – a British man named Alex Hanff has filed a lawsuit at a small claims court to demand reimbursement from Google for about £400. That is how much it will cost him to replace his Google Android smartphone.

Mr. Hanff says that Google left him with no other option but to discard his phone completely when the company decided to go ahead and implement their new more intrusive privacy policy – despite public outcry asking the company to reconsider.

He says that because Google changed their privacy policy, they broke the contract terms he agreed to when he purchased his smartphone. He bought the phone under the understanding his personal information would be used in one way and now Google said they will use it in different way. Mr. Hanff isn’t going to let Google pull a bait-and-switch on him. He said,

“The changes are a significant infringement of my right to privacy and I do not consent to Google being able to use my data in such a way”

It’s an expensive change for Britain’s estimated 9.3 million Android users who are not allowed to opt-out of the new privacy policy. All they can do is either accept increased intrusion to their privacy or give up their phones altogether. If Google is going to force people to accept the new policy, then Google should be forced to pay people back the money they deceived them out of.

Last week, Attorneys General from 36 US states and territories sent a strongly worded letter to Google asking them to give consumers an opt-out option from Google’s new privacy policy. They said that Google’s privacy policy will lead to various violations of their privacy and it will be expensive for people to escape Google. They wrote:

“This invasion of privacy will be costly for many users to escape. For users who rely on Google products for their business – a use that Google has actively promoted – avoiding this information sharing may mean moving their entire business over to different platforms, reprinting any business cards or letterhead that contained Gmail addresses, re-training employees on web-based sharing and calendar services, and more. The problem is compounded for the many federal, state, and local government agencies that have transitioned to Google Apps for Government at the encouragement of your company, and that now will need to spend taxpayer dollars determining how this change affects the security of their information and whether they need to switch to different platforms”

Google refused to pay any attention to their concerns, though. Google has refused to listen to anybody but themselves and advertisers. Google’s business model depends on 90% of their revenues to come from advertising. Google wants to harvest more of our personal data so that it can sell it to advertisers.

This lack of respect for the concerns of others left Mr. Hanff shaking his head in disgust. He said,

“They’ve been asked to suspend the privacy policy changes several times, and Google keeps telling the regulators where to go. They’ve basically stuck two fingers up. Hopefully my case will open an avenue for other consumers to take similar action”

Pay up, Google! You neglected to respect your users; they will now neglect to do business with you. Good riddance!

To read my other post regarding the letter from the Attorneys General – click here

UPDATE

A commenter asked me to provide more details on this story, specifically the process Mr. Hanff took to file his lawsuit:

According to an interview between Mr. Hanff and The Inquirer, his choice to file his lawsuit at a small claims court was very deliberate. He said that small claims courts are much easier to get through, require minimal money to file a complaint, and you don’t need a lawyer to represent you. He encourages other Android owners to file a lawsuit with a small claims court for those reasons because he knows that many people don’t have the money and time to go through an extensive lawsuit – whereas, at a small claims court, there is little to lose and much to gain. Mr. Hanff said,

“The cost of filing in Small Claims Court is very low and the chance of having costs awarded against you should you lose are very slim, so from a risk mitigation perspective it is the safest route for consumers to take. The last thing I wanted to do was put people at risk of huge costs so I would advise the public to use the small claims route if they want to take action against Google on this issue.

I expect Google will offer a defense. I certainly don’t have any plans to accept an out of court settlement from Google unless that settlement can be made public and includes an admission from Google that the changes are prejudicial to privacy. So yes, I am expecting a fight but it is a fight I am more than prepared to undertake.”  

For more information:

The Telegraph, “Google sued for Android refund over privacy shakeup” – click here

The Telegraph, “Google Android users ‘must accept new privacy policy'” – click here

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2 thoughts on “A British Android Smartphone Owner Sues Google Over Privacy Policy Bait-And-Switch

  1. Chris says:

    Please provide details on how Alex went about submitting the claim. The process, the wording etc. so we can all make the same claim

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