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Margie: Couples get divorced for various reasons. But a bizarre story out of France has a businessman suing Uber for $48 million claiming their app allowed his wife to spy on him. Sounds crazy but much can be learned from this lawsuit here in the States. Jonathan Marks with the Marks Law Firm here this morning to explain. Good morning to you.
Jonathan: Good morning, Margie.
Margie: Yeah, I mean this on the surface sounds crazy. It is out of France?
Jonathan: Correct. I mean hey, you know, right. On the surface, it’s a bizarre story where somebody basically what they did is they use their wife’s phone for purposes of ordering Ubers to take him around town to visit other women. And so what he did is he went onto the phone, used her app, ordered the Ubers, signed out of the app and figured once he signed out of the app there would be no problem because nobody would ever know what he was doing. Unfortunately for him, there was actually a glitch in the Uber app and the app started sending the wife notices. And she then was able to track where he was going on these various Uber rides.
Margie: Yeah I mean it does bring to light some questions here in the United States. I mean could a case like this fly here?
Jonathan: No, I mean realistically what you’re doing is you’re suing a company…I guess the best closest theory would be on a product liability suit that the app malfunctioned and then caused him harm. But what is the actual harm? The harm is that your spouse caught you cheating on an, you know, and so I don’t think that any jury would ever find that to be a legitimate reason to provide damages.
Margie: Yeah, I mean GPS though now, I mean it’s everywhere. It’s on cars, it’s on phones, that there is a lot of tracking going on out there.
Jonathan: Right and I mean, you know, the most practical use that you see typically is if you and your spouse are sharing a phone account through, you know, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile whatever it may be. Let’s say you have iPhones together and you have the family sharing and you turn on the iPhone and find your iPhone app. At that point in time, you’re typically just using it to track your kids, see where they may be going and it’s something useful. But on the flip side of it, it also can be used for purposes of tracking where your spouse may be if you’re all on the same plan. As a result of it, if you’re doing something that you shouldn’t be, it may lead to where someone is tracking you inadvertently not knowing that you’re being found going on your trysts that you shouldn’t be doing.
Margie: Yeah. Exactly. What did the court say about privacy and GPS? Or hasn’t it really been brought up much?
Jonathan: So the GPS in and of itself hasn’t been looked at. But I mean, you know, what you have seen in the past where it’s still illegal would be as if somebody then went and put on so, you know, an actual tracking device within the car. So today, of course, you know, within it most of the vehicles are coming in where they have their own GPS signal that’s allowing one to be traced. And so if somebody hacked into that particular GPS signal, I think you’d still have a suit in there because I don’t think that today there’s been any, you know, prominent case law that has made a determination as to whether you have a privacy ride as you’re driving in public with your GPS signal. Whereas if somebody physically put that tracking device on you without your knowledge, they’re, you know, it’s similar to wiretapping, you’re not having consent to figure out where you’re going. That’s gonna be problematic.
Margie: Yeah. We’ll be seeing a case probably before long, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Yeah realistically with all the apps that people are using whether it’s just for good purposes to trace on your kids or if it’s for bad purposes in the situation. One way or another it’s not gonna take very long before prominent case is gonna come forward in regard to the liability of somebody in doing this type of work.
Margie: Absolutely. All right. Attorney Jonathan Marks, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
Jonathan: Thanks Margie.
Margie: For more information on the Marks Law Firm, head to the STL Moms tab.