Lawsuit Claims Massachusetts Installed COVID-19 ‘Spyware’ On 1 Million Devices

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

Plaintiffs Robert Wright and Johnny Kula were among 1 million Massachusetts residents who had the state’s “COVID Exposure Settings: US-MA” app auto-installed without their consent, according to the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), the nonpartisan civil rights group that filed the lawsuit (pdf) on Tuesday.

The app, once automatically installed, didn’t appear on the device’s home screen as newly-installed apps typically do. Instead, it was invisible and could only be found by opening “settings” and using the “view all apps” feature, according to NCLA.

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

The NCLA declared the action a “brazen disregard” of civil liberties, saying in a statement the app was installed “without obtaining any search warrants, in violation of the device owners’ constitutional and common-law rights to privacy and property.” – READ MORE