Google’s attempts to have a class-action lawsuit filed against it dismissed have been refused by a federal judge, who ruled that the tech giant will have to face the claims that it violated federal privacy laws through its disclosure of users’ conversations to outside contractors.
The suit originated last summer, following a report from Dutch radio broadcaster VRT that alleged Google Home smart speakers and the Google Assistant — Google’s artificial intelligence-powered smart assistant — were transmitting users’ conversations to the company even when they hadn’t first used the hotwords that ‘wake’ the assistant and signal an intent to interact with it.
The plaintiffs in the case allege that Google recorded these conversations without their consent and shared portions of them with third party vendors. VRT also reported it had listened to more than 1,000 excerpts of conversations — 153 of which originated without the hotwords having been said — that were shared with the broadcaster by an outside contractor.
“A reasonable user cannot be expected to connect the two sections and anticipate that defendants may use ‘external processing’ for any purpose for which defendants collect data,” wrote Freeman. “Put another way, although users may have consented to Google’s collection of their data to ‘to improve the functionality of the Assistant,’ … that consent does not reasonably extend to disclosure of data.”
This is one of a number of privacy lawsuits of which Google is currently on the receiving end, including a pair filed this year that accuse it of violating the Biometric Information Privacy Act in Illinois.
May 12, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis