Lawsuit alleges Massachusetts installed COVID-19 spyware on 1 million devices

By Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (confirmation is ours),

The Google Pixel 7 Pro is shown at its launch in New York on October 6, 2022. (Thomas Urbain / AFP via Getty Images)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly working with Google to install “spyware” on the Android devices of one million residents of the state without their knowledge. during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plaintiffs, Robert Wright and Johnny Cola, were among the 1,000,000 Massachusetts residents The state’s “COVID Exposure Settings: US-MA” app was automatically installed without their consentaccording to the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), a nonpartisan civil rights group that filed the lawsuit (pdf) on Tuesday.

Once the app is installed automatically, it does not appear on the home screen of the device as newly installed apps do. Instead, it was invisible and could only be found by opening Settings and using the View All Apps feature, according to the NCLA.

This means that many device users were unaware of its existence. Many have decried this as an invasion of privacy.

The NCLA declared the action a “flagrant disregard” for civil liberties, It said in a statement that the app was installed “without obtaining any search warrants, in violation of the device owners’ constitutional and legal rights to privacy and property.”

“This ‘bot attack’, deliberately designed to override the constitutional and statutory rights of citizens to be free from government intrusions on their privacy without their consent, reads like dystopian science fiction – and should be swiftly invalidated by the court,” said the NCLA Senior. Litigation counsel Peggy Little in a statement.

Screenshot of COVID Exposure Settings: US-MA app on Google Play Store, November 18, 2022. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“The government may not secretly install the monitoring system” on the devices

Other foreign states and countries have often tried to convince their citizens to install contact-tracing apps voluntarily, even if it meant fewer people took up them, according to Xing Li, an NCLA litigation counsel.

He told me, “The government may not secretly install surveillance devices on your personal property without a warrant—even for a laudable purpose.” For the same reason, he may not install monitoring software on your smartphone without your awareness and permission.

NCLA has asked the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts to prevent continued installation of the app on private devices “without the knowledge or permission of the device owners.”

The lawsuit also asks the judge to have the Massachusetts DPH work with Google to uninstall the app from “private Android mobile devices where the owner of the device has not given permission for such installation.”

The plaintiffs also want the state to declare that its actions violated Fourth Amendment rights and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

Read more over here…