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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Path Apps Being Sued for "Snooping" on Users

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM

click to enlarge .... plus every hacker and their mom
  • .... plus every hacker and their mom

As if Siri and her spying ways weren't disturbing enough, now a Texas man has filed a federal class action lawsuit against the popular Path app, claiming the San Francisco-based company is using its own app to pry into users' lives.

Path's image was already tarnished last month when researchers busted the app for uploading its users' entire address book to its servers without their knowledge or consent.

Oscar Hernandez filed a lawsuit in San Francisco this week, claiming the company's spying tactics go beyond just copying address books and contacts -- and he's not just being paranoid. Hernandez says the app has also taken personal information as specific as the exact location of his minor children. This information is then stored with so few safeguards that even the most unsophisticated hacker could access it.

The lawsuit states that the company's illegal surveillance is violating a plethora of laws, including the California Invasion Privacy Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

According to the suit:

Path's storage of user data was vital to its immediate and continued growth, since it did not want to delay building its platform slowly while prospective users spent time locating the app, experimenting with its functions to determine if they would remain a user, and prompting its users to assist in referring users' contacts.
The app, which is purchased through iTunes, is advertised as "the smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love --

your thoughts, the music you're listening to, where you are, who you're

with, when you wake and when you sleep."

Hernandez says he uses the app to upload and share digital photos as well as music. He also used it to access social networking sites. But in doing so, he claims, Path has used a covert method to keep tabs on every user without their knowledge. Specifically, the company has "hidden tracking devices within users' digital content, which was downloaded onto their mobile devices and computers.

"Plaintiff and class members demand that defendant return the digital

content within their mobile devices and computing devices to the state

that existed prior to any and all activity implemented by Path and Path

Affiliates, including but not limited to removal of all GPS coordinates

attached to their digital content."

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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