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Austrian lawyer and activist Max Schrems has filed a lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, claiming that the company monitors Android users in the European Union, some 300 million of them, without their consent.
In the lawsuit, the complainants urge French authorities to launch an investigation against these “illegal operations” to force the American giant to comply with EU data protection laws.
Android’s phones, like Apple’s, generate a unique code -the AAID with which they identify each of their users and monitor their behavior, from downloads and most-used applications to the areas of the screen they touch at any given moment.
Both Google itself and its clients have access to this identifier, which, according to the lawsuit, analyze user behavior to identify consumption preferences and place personalized ads.
Schrems considers that Google not only generates the AAID without the user’s consent, but also prevents the user from deleting it, since even a reboot does not delete the collected data or stop further monitoring.
“The AAID is like a colored powder you have on your feet and hands, it makes it possible to see every move you make in the cell phone ecosystem. Moreover, you can’t get rid of it, just change its color,” Noyb’s data protection lawyer Stefano Rossetti explained in a statement.
European law allows companies to generate and use such identifier codes, but only if they notify the user in advance and the user consents.
The reason the activists have decided to file the lawsuit in France is because the country has a more comprehensive legal system and its privacy regulator can make decisions without the need to cooperate with other EU authorities.
Last November Noyb already sued Apple for the same reason and, although the case is still under the supervision of the regulatory authorities, the American company notified that, for its new operating system (iOS14), it will ask users for the first time whether they want to have a monitoring code or not.
Schrems has been fighting against tech giants for years to ensure users’ privacy.
A complaint of his caused the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to invalidate the agreement on the automatic transfer of European citizens’ data to the United States.