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.