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Judge greenlights anti-tracking lawsuit against Apple

updated 05:24 pm EDT, Wed June 13, 2012

Google, several other companies disappear as defendants

US District Judge Lucy Koh -- based in San Jose, California -- has authorized a lawsuit accusing Apple of giving advertisers and analytics firms access to personal data whenever someone downloaded a free iOS app, says Reuters. In April of last year, researchers discovered that it was possible to track a person's location history through iOS data. Though Apple denied tracking people and eventually took steps to limit the information iOS can collect, a number of lawsuits were filed; Koh is overseeing a case combining 19 different lawsuits. Beyond location data, the current suit's complaints also encompass data such as addresses, genders, ages, app functions, and device identifiers.

Apple will now have to face claims regarding two California consumer protection laws. Koh has, however, thrown out claims involving the violation of privacy rights, as well as others relating to federal laws against computer fraud, wiretapping, and records disclosure. The decision has in fact radically altered the nature of the case, as Google, Admob, Admarval, Flurry, and Medialets are no longer co-defendants.

Koh has stated that plaintiffs can pursue claims that they overpaid for Apple devices based on the company's statements about privacy protection, and the bandwidth and storage consumption caused by Apple's software. Apple has tried to argue that end-user licenses protect it from any liability, but Koh counters that there is "some ambiguity" about whether Apple had the right to collect all the data it did.

At the same time, Koh says that the privacy invasion in the case is not an "egregious breach of social norms," and could possibly be "routine commercial behavior."

An earlier version of the lawsuit was dismissed in September of last year, but the plaintiffs were given an opportunity to resubmit.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +12

    Is Koh...

    ...biased ?
    ...stupid ?
    ...on the take?

  1. Eriamjh

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Oct 2001

    +5

    Prove harm.

    Prove it.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Sep 1999

    +4

    This ought to be an easy one.

    The data was never transmitted to Apple. They have no case.

  1. FreeRange

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009

    +3

    To the bottom they go...

    As usual, these things are not driven by consumers but by money hungry, money grabbing bottom feeding lawyers who are the only ones that come out ahead. Send them to h_ll... or at least the bottom of the ocean...

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Jul 2006

    +2

    Tracking? Not really.

    The lawyers who filed this lawsuit are blowing hot air. I downloaded a Mac app that grabbed that data off my iPhone. The data had me in neighborhoods where I've never been, apparently the location of cell towers my phone was hitting. About all you could tell from the data was that I live in NW Seattle, which is widely known, public information. No advertiser with any sense would pay for that data.

    This is a classic illustration of the sort of lawsuit that tort lawyers like. There's little or no damage to a large numbers of people, so they work out a cozy little deal with the corporation being sued. The settlement will have so many hoops to jump through, that it won't be worth the trouble for the alleged victims to collect. That means the corporation (in this case Apple) has to pay out almost nothing. But at the same time, the lawyers who're suing will get very generously paid by that settlement.

    I saw that about a decade ago with there was a lawsuit alleging that Apple had promised two of my Macs would run OS X , when in practice they were so low-end they did so poorly. I'd know that before I bought, so it didn't bother me.

    But notice what happened. The resulting settlement was so cluttered with requirements for claimants, I'd have earned about $5 an hour making my claim. Meanwhile the lawyers, supposedly serving my interests, would be charging Apple perhaps $300 and up for their time.

    It wasn't hard to see that the lawsuit was bogus, intended only to enrich the suing lawyers. Why the judge agreed to it is beyond me. Maybe he was stupid. Maybe he knew he could depend on those lawyers for campaign contributions.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +1

    Re: Prove harm.

    Prove it.

    Isn't that the purpose of going to court? To prove it? And if they can't, they'll be found not guilty. Geesh.

    Apparently you want the case to be settled and determined before it even starts.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +1

    Oh

    And I love how any judge that doesn't rule in Apple's favor is apparently on the take or anti-apple. They can't be following any rule of law or the courts. Nope. Anti-apple, nothing more.

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