Canadian lawyers file suit against Google claiming company unlawfully collects and profits from personal user info

The suit was filed by lawyers in B.C, Ontario and Quebec

Google app dark mode

Lawyers in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec have filed a proposed class-action suit against Google and its parent company Alphabet on behalf of millions of Canadian. The suit alleges that Google unlawfully collects and profits from personal information from users without their consent, according to IT World Canada. 

The suit alleges that Google Services, Google Ads and Google Analytics turn Canadian electronics into tracking devices, which the company uses to build profiles on nearly every Internet user in Canada — even those with no relationship with the company — all without any consent.

“There is no reason Canadians should tolerate what we say is extensive surveillance of their daily online activities, especially because Canada has laws specifically intended to protect them from such actions,” said Luciana Brasil, a partner from Vancouver firm of Branch MacMaster LLP in a press release. Additionally, the claim alleges that Google violates consumer protection and competition laws by misrepresenting its privacy and data practices.

Brasil said in an interview that “one of the key issues is whether what online users are told about personal information being collected is accurate and sufficient.”

Additionally, the claim alleges that Google collects information on users that have no relations with it — for example, those that don’t use the Chrome browser or Gmail. These users get their data collected by a site that uses either Google Analytics or Google Ads, according to Brasil.

“So my computer is being told to do something by somebody with whom I have had no relationship without my knowledge and without any opportunity to give consent. That, to me, is such a clear case. That flies in the face of the argument that there is always consent, and people always know what is being provided. I am fairly confident that most people haven’t the foggiest idea that this is going on,” said Brasil.

Furthermore, it claims that complainants suffered damage to their pride, self-respect and reputation.

Reidar Mogerman, a partner from the Vancouver firm of Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman LLP and one of the firms that joined the claim, alleges that Google says that it tells its users that they can choose how the company uses their information, but the suit claims that users don’t have a choice regarding whether Google collects their information in the first place. Therefore, the suit claims that Google is misleading with its advertising, which is a direct violation of consumer protection laws.

The class action seeks compensation for invasion of privacy, trespassing and consumer protection violation as well as other causes of action. However, the class-action has to be approved by a judge before it can go further. The hearing has yet to be set, and the claim is brought on behalf of Canadians, who previously used Google Services or visited websites that contain Google Ads or Analytics.

The press release says data is collected by Google’s services as well as Google Ads and Analytics, which are installed on more than 50 percent global websites. It claims that Google trespasses on user devices by sending code to their computers, tablets or smartphones when they visit on these sites or services. Further, the suit claims that the code forces users’ computers or smartphones and secretly sends users’ personal information to Google, which includes details like their name, gender, location, the terms they type into Google, their IP address, the device their using, and the site they’re visiting. Allegedly, this includes sensitive information like marital status, parental status, income bracket and sexual orientation.

Then the Alphabet-owned company generates profiles of these internet users, according to the claim. Additionally, it uses some of this information to target advertising without the user’s knowledge or consent, and this violates Canadian laws that protect the privacy and personal interests of users.

Google’s privacy policy states that the information it collects can be controlled by privacy settings and tools. However, the suit suggests that the company’s privacy settings and tools don’t prevent Google’s collection and the use of personal information for its own business purposes, the creation of a profile or the monetization of personal information.

Quebec filed a separate proposed class-action lawsuit in July, claiming that Google misrepresented to its users how much control the company has over the data is shares when the user web browses in incognito mode. The Quebec lawsuit seeks $50 million CAD in punitive damages.

A Similar U.S lawsuit was filed back in June seeking $5 billion USD (about $ 6.5 billion CAD) in damages.

Source: IT World Canada