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Judge invites sanctions against Apple in tracking lawsuit

updated 10:00 am EDT, Wed March 20, 2013

Calls earlier concealment of documents 'unacceptable conduct'

US Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal has invited plaintiffs to file for sanctions in their ongoing lawsuit against Apple over location tracking, Bloomberg reports. The company was recently chastized for not showing compliance with a November order to turn over demanded documents in the case. Grewal has called Apple's behavior "unacceptable conduct," and notes that after he began overseeing the case earlier this month, Apple has "more than doubled" the amount of documents produced.

Following a review of Apple's document collection procedures, Grewal told Apple lawyer Ashlie Beringer that it "doesn't sound like you did a lick of work" to check the results of document production. Beringer, though, claims that Apple has made "Herculean efforts over the last two weeks" to fix the situation, and that it has finally supplied all the requested documents. Bloomberg indicates that since the recent order, Apple has turned over more than 2,000 items.

The company has fought the release of some documents, claiming that it and the public could be hurt if the contents were "inadvertently released to the public or fell into the wrong hands." One example involves unredacted information on the app review process; Apple claims that, once, a developer learned the identity of a reviewer, and threatened to kill him at a conference. Grewal dismissed concerns after Apple admitted that none of the threats it was warning of had materialized.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. davidlfoster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-06-05

    How big before too big to comply

    I don't know about you, but if I chose not to comply with a court order, I would be facing serious consequences. It's about time that companies, I don't care how big they are, Exxon, Apple, whoever, begin to do likewise. I don't mean fines. Any comprehensible fine is just pocket change to these super-companies. To them it's just one more cost of doing business. I want the imprisonment of executives. Involuntary detention. Orange coveralls. Fingerprinting. Isn't it about time in America that we begin to get accountability? I'm not asking for stockades (yet), but if companies are people (SCOTUS), shouldn't they be held accountable like people (you and me)?

  1. Inkling

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 07-25-06

    A not-so-capable judge

    I looked the location data on my iPhone when this fuss first appeared . It included a number of places I've never been, probably because the locations were of the cell tower I was using at that time. T-Mobile has a far more detailed collection of that data than my iPhone ever stored. Why aren't these lawyers going after it? And T-Mobile has that data. This data was just on my phone and pretty skimpy to boot.

    Besides all that data revealed was that I spend a lot of time in NW Seattle. As my publicly available data shows, I live in NW Seattle. And cell tower data says nothing about where I am closer than a couple of miles. This isn't Big Brother. It's more like little baby sister.

    In a legal dispute in federal court that I was involved in several years ago, I was impressed with the judge magistrate Involved. This particular magistrate doesn't impress me. From the above article, he seems to have a bit of an authoritarian complex. He doesn't realize that Apple's lawyers aren't giving him any respect because they consider this entire lawsuit ridiculous and wonder why he hasn't had the sense to toss it out.

    Judge Grewal, you may recall, was also a major player in the Samsung v. Apple patent dispute, perhaps the most badly run tech trial in recent memory, with inconsistent rulings and a jury that was an utter disaster. The courts are likely to spend years cleaning up the mess it created.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: 07-16-04

    Fo crying out loud.

    This lawsuit is ridiculous. If they government wants to track you, they don't need Apple's help. The government has enlisted numerous companies to "spy" on everything you do. If you don't want to be tracked, use cash and don't own a cellphone. Alternatively, you can just go see a shrink about your paranoia and they can prescribe some pills for you.

    I really, really, really hate the so-called "libertarian" attitude in america even more than socialism. Both are based on selfishness of using other people's resources without paying anything back.

    If you live in a society, you have to contribute to the society to maintain the infrastructure you are using. In the same way, if you are going to use a smartphone, you should be will to provide anonymized data to help non-cellphone users (people with iPod touches and Ipad wifi models) with some help to locate themselves with location services. Those same users in turn help the accuracy of the data as well by providing more resolved wifi hotspots near the hotspot+GPS location you provided earlier.

    Ultimately though, this case is about the cache file that is sitting on your phone to help "YOU" with faster location services and reducing your data usage.

    Stop being so damn sue happy and selfish.

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    to davidlfoster

    It's unclear in this particular case who is being more obstinate: the judge or Apple. But to address your point more broadly, we'd get better behaviour out of companies if the individual directors/executives were held *personally accountable* and faced the kinds of penalties ordinary citizens do. The larger issues is that the US went down a terrible blind alley when it gave corporations the same rights -- more rights, really -- as people, but with ZERO responsibility. If America fixes *that* problem, we'd suddenly get companies that behaved much more responsibly.

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