U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, Northern District of California
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, Northern District of California (Jason Doiy / The Recorder)

PALO ALTO — A pared-down privacy suit accusing Google of using apps installed on Android mobile phones to collect personal data can move forward, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled Monday.

In re Google Android Consumer Privacy Litigation, 11-2264, alleges that Google captured data from apps such as Foursquare, Groupon, Angry Birds and Pandora without users’ consent. The data, plaintiffs say, included users’ locations and unique device identifiers, as well as personal information collected by the apps such as gender, age, search terms entered and other preferences.

The suit contends that Google misrepresented how it would collect data and that the “surreptitious” action sapped phones’ battery power, bandwidth and storage capability, possibly leading to data overage charges.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of the Northern District of California threw out a claim under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, finding plaintiffs failed to show economic damages meeting the statute’s $5,000 threshold. However, White upheld claims under California’s Unfair Competition Law and sided with the plaintiffs’ lawyers that their clients have standing based on the reduced functionality of their Android phones due to depleted batteries.

“Google may not have manufactured plaintiffs’ mobile devices, and plaintiffs may have an uphill battle proving this theory of standing,” White wrote. But, he added, “they have alleged sufficient facts to show that they suffered an injury, the injury is fairly traceable to Google’s conduct, and the injury could be redressed by the relief the plaintiffs seek.”

The judge rejected a broader suit last year but gave plaintiffs lawyers at Audet & Partners and KamberLaw a chance to amend. The new complaint was more limited and dropped allegations against Google’s mobile advertising platforms AdMob Inc. and AdWhirl Inc.

Google is represented by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partners David Kramer and Michael Rubin.

Contact the reporter at callison@alm.com.