Bloomberg Law
Aug. 6, 2020, 5:26 PM

Google Faces California Privacy Suit Over Android Phone Tracking

Andrea Vittorio
Andrea Vittorio

Alphabet Inc.‘s Google allegedly tracked smartphone users’ app activity without permission in violation of California’s landmark privacy law, according to a California federal court lawsuit.

Google allegedly used the capability of phones with the company’s Android operating system to collect data on usage of non-Google apps, according to the Wednesday complaint in the Northern District of California

The owner of a Pixel phone, made by Google, filed the potential class action on behalf of other consumers, alleging a violation of the California Consumer Privacy Act.

The lawsuit adds to scrutiny Google has been facing from regulators and legislators for allegedly infringing on user privacy while edging out competitors in areas such as search and maps.

The complaint claims Google employees spy on Android user activity through its “lockbox” program, with the goal of developing competitor apps to popular social media sites like ByteDance Ltd.'s TikTok.

“Google uses this information to obtain an unfair competitive advantage over its rivals,” the complaint alleges.

Cause of Action: California’s privacy law and state constitution

Relief: damages, disgorgement, and court orders to improve Google’s privacy disclosures and better obtain consent

Response: Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: The Pixel phone owner is represented by Schubert Jonckheer & Kolbe LLP and Lowey Dannenberg P.C.

The case is McCoy v. Alphabet Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 5:20-cv-05427, 8/5/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Hughes at; Keith Perine at;