The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) filed a suit this week that accuses DPH of creating a COVID contact tracing app with Google that was then installed on resident’s phones without their knowledge.
“These secret installations not only invade owners’ reasonable expectation of privacy, but they also intrude upon owners’ property right in their mobile devices by occupying valuable storage space,” the class-action lawsuit, entitled Wright v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The lawsuit contends that the actions of the DPH during the pandemic were unconstitutional and showed a “brazen disregard for civil liberties.” It also claims that the app was installed “secretly” on the phones of over a million Bay State residents.
Even if an individual did not opt into the tracking app, the lawsuit says that data and information about the user from the phone could still be accessed via Bluetooth.
According to the NCLA, the app could only be accessed after going to the “settings” section of the phones and then going to “view all apps.” Peggy Little, a senior litigator for NCLA called the alleged actions of DPH akin to “dystopian science fiction.”
“This ‘android attack,’ deliberately designed to override the constitutional and legal rights of citizens to be free from government intrusions upon their privacy without their consent, reads like dystopian science fiction — and must be swiftly invalidated by the court,” she said.
The NCLA is representing two individuals, who frequent Massachusetts (one has a home and the other works in the state) who say the app was installed on their Android phones without their permission. They said they deleted the app after discovering its presence on their phones.
The group contrasts the alleged actions of Massachusetts DPH with that of other states who rolled out a similar app, but let individuals opt in.
“Many states and foreign countries have successfully deployed contact tracing apps by obtaining the consent of their citizens before downloading software onto their smartphones,” said NCLA counsel Sheng Li. “The government may not secretly install surveillance devices on your personal property without a warrant — even for a laudable purpose.”
In statement to the Boston Herald, DPH said it could not “comment on pending litigation.” The Daily Wire also reached out the department for comment.