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Judge says Apple must defend against mobile tracking suit

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
A U.S. district court judge ruled late Tuesday that plaintiffs can move forward with a case against Apple that claims the company inadvertently allowed ad networks to track devices and thus caused customers to overpay for their devices.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who is overseeing 19 nationwide litigations involving Apple and recently denied an injunction of Samsung's Galaxy S III, said that owners of iDevices can pursue the claims under two California consumer protection laws, reports Reuters.

The case is actually the second version of a similar complaint thrown out by the same court in 2011 that asserted Apple knowingly violated consumer privacy rights by allowing ad networks and apps the ability to track the activity of iPhone and iPad users. In the amended complaint, plaintiffs are seeking damages for the purported loss of storage space and bandwidth resulting from secret tracking.

Apple remains the lone defendant as assertions against ad agencies like AdMarval Inc, Admob Inc, Flurry Inc and Google have all been dismissed.

Tuesday's granted filing takes a different tack against iDevice tracking and is perhaps the last chance for plaintiffs to claim damages as Judge Koh threw out assertions that Apple infringed on customers' privacy rights and certain federal laws involving computer fraud, wiretaps, and records disclosure.

From the complaint:

Finally, Plaintiffs allege that as a result of Apple?s failure to disclose its practices with respect to the allegedly ?free apps,? Plaintiffs overpaid for their iDevices. In other words ?[h]ad Apple disclosed the true cost of the purportedly free Apps . . . the value of the iPhones would have been materially less than what Plaintiffs paid.?


At issue are written statements from Apple that ensure users certain privacy protections, especially those regarding geographic and usage tracking. The company came under fire in 2011 when it was discovered that geotagged photos could be used by a nefarious app to effectively track the location of an iPhone user. Government officials immediately voiced concern over the possibility of user tracking which pushed Apple to outline its zero-tolerance stance on the issue.

The plaintiffs are now using Apple's statements as ammo as they claim the iPhone, and by proxy iOS, was designed to allow mobile ad networks and analytics companies to collect personal data under the guise of free apps. Because the data mining was done without direct consent of the customer, the complaint asserts that Apple's promise of protection was specious.

The complaint reads:

Apple represents to users of the App Store that it ?takes precautions—including administrative, technical, and physical measures—to safeguard your personal information against theft, loss, and misuse, as well as against unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, and destruction.?


Data gathered includes addresses, names, phone numbers and other sensitive information.

Tracking
Example of iOS geographical data plotting. | Source: O'Reilly Radar



The suit's lynchpin is access to a mobile device's unique device identifier (UDID), a number assigned to each wireless iDevice that can be used by ad agencies to track usage across apps. While Apple vowed to restrict UDID usage in iOS 5, and has started to reject apps that use the unique code, some apps are still allowed access to the number.

According to court documents, "the information collected by Defendants includes Plaintiffs? addresses
and current whereabouts; the unique device identifier (?UDID?) assigned to the iDevice; the user?s
gender, age, zip code and time zone; and app-specific information such as which functions Plaintiff
performed on the app. These practices have allowed the Mobile
Industry Defendants to 'acquire details about consumers and to track consumers on an ongoing
basis, across numerous applications and tracking consumers when they accessed Apps from
different mobile devices.'"



It is unclear whether the suit will have any effect on the mobile ecosystem as ad networks say their revenue streams are reliant on so-called anonymous user tracking and are already experimenting with other means of gathering data as UDID access become increasingly restricted.

Jury selection for the case is slated for September with the trial set to begin in the same month.
post #2 of 28
This complaint is totally absurd. Apple should win it handily.

Koh is out of control. She's already been shot down by one appeals court and then issued essentially the same opinion that the appeals court rejected. Now this silly case that should have been dismissed from the start.
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post #3 of 28

Anyone else think there may be a conflict of interest or perhaps simply a underlying bias with a Korean American Judge presiding over so many cases that are between US and Korean companies? Especially a judge whom she herself said that minority judges must maintain the "disguise of objectivity", later claiming she had forgotten she wrote that and of course that is not the case when confronted to a confirmation hearing. This whole thing does not sit well with me.

post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Koh is out of control. She's already been shot down by one appeals court and then issued essentially the same opinion that the appeals court rejected.

YOU'RE OFF THE CASE, CALLAHAN!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

Anyone else think there may be a conflict of interest or perhaps simply a underlying bias with a Korean American Judge presiding over so many cases that are between US and Korean companies?

No. Used to, but I was wholly uninformed at the time.
post #5 of 28

It was more the quote from her past that bothers me over her being a Korean American. So what information did you get that changed your perception? I am happy to be open minded that maybe there is no bias and hope that is the case.

post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

So what information did you get that changed your perception? I am happy to be open minded that maybe there is no bias and hope that is the case.

It truly doesn't matter, a person's lot, in determining whether they're able to be objective in a case involving a perceived unfairness in that regard.

Personally, I'm extraordinarily impartial in all the decisions I make, despite no apparent reason to be. If you were judging me on where I came from in this way, you'd be surprised at some of the decisions I make. And yes, impartial even here. The result of my decisions or conclusions on the back end is what most people see, resulting in "bias".
post #7 of 28

I think you are intentionally avoiding the direct issue in HER statement. You can watch the hearing here. Poor video, but very clear that even she was VERY embarrassed at what she had written, but does a tiger really change its stripes, or was she again simply disguising her motives to be affirmed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDbUsnrfuLo

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

Anyone else think there may be a conflict of interest or perhaps simply a underlying bias with a Korean American Judge presiding over so many cases that are between US and Korean companies? Especially a judge whom she herself said that minority judges must maintain the "disguise of objectivity", later claiming she had forgotten she wrote that and of course that is not the case when confronted to a confirmation hearing. This whole thing does not sit well with me.

 

Only if you're racist.

post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

A U.S. district court judge ruled late Tuesday that plaintiffs can move forward with a case against Apple that claims the company inadvertently allowed ad networks to track devices and thus caused customers to overpay for their devices.

I don't believe the plaintiffs are claiming user tracking permitted by Apple was inadvertent. Assuming that Apple truly curates each app before approval it's unlikely they were unaware that user data was being harvested by any of them. Even Apple themselves claim they can share your occupation, location, language, area code etc, all associated with your device's UDID, with anyone for any reason. They even give themselves a lot of leeway in how they might share your personally identifiable information.

 

Note that Apple changed their privacy policy again quite recently, about 3 weeks ago. If you've never read it it can't hurt to take a look.  

http://www.apple.com/privacy/

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post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

Anyone else think there may be a conflict of interest or perhaps simply a underlying bias with a Korean American Judge presiding over so many cases that are between US and Korean companies? Especially a judge whom she herself said that minority judges must maintain the "disguise of objectivity", later claiming she had forgotten she wrote that and of course that is not the case when confronted to a confirmation hearing. This whole thing does not sit well with me.

I agree.

 

I want a white judge with white parents who was born in america with blond hair and blue eyes. All of those minority judges are biased against apple. The less minorities we have the better for apple. the last thing apple needs is some minority seeing over their case. Everyone knows minority judges are biased and therefore only the supreme race of judges, white judges, should be allowed to hear this case. its the way nature intended it to be. White american judges will have no bias towards any company and at least if they do it will be for the american one, which will make it OK. 

 

DOWN WITH BLACK, LATINO, ASIAN, AND WHATEVER ELSE CRAP MINORITY JUDGES THERE ARE. 

 

WHITE JUDGES ONLY!

post #11 of 28

And to be clear, she basically wrote, that "minority judges should maintain a disguise of objectivity" so as not to have their decisions called into question. That is an extremely troubling statement for a judge to make. I am not making this up. Watch her hearing. It is very brief. So is she now putting on that mask of objectivity while she rules in the favor of another company sharing a common connection? I think it is completely valid to ask.

post #12 of 28

Again, you are missing the point and trying to make this a racist argument. I could not care less, if she was Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, German, African or what have you. But this is a case between a US Based company and a Korean company. This is a Korean American Judge who earlier in her law career wrote that one should mask their true opinions so their own judgments would not be questioned. Do not be ignorant to the fact that there may be an underlying bias and to remove that completely, put an African American, or Chinese American, or Canadian American, or what have you in her place to rule on the case.

post #13 of 28

This applies to her many other decisions where she is ruling against Apple's request in the trials against Samsung. Actually my comments are more appropriate for those cases and likely would be better understood in that thread so for this I apologize. I just noticed this is the same judge handling all of these cases against Apple.

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

But this is a case between a US Based company and a Korean company

 

And exactly where is the Korean company in this case? In the same palce that you're accusing the Judge of corruption?

post #15 of 28

I hope you guys noticed that this article is all over the board. It's not about a Korean company at odds with a US one. It's not that stupid overblown Apple location file issue from last year. The primary discussion is supposed to be about a lawsuit alleging in effect that Apple hasn't properly protected their privacy. The inserted graphic of iOS data plots has nothing to do at all with this complaint.   I have no doubt that it's just an attempt by some AI writer to make it appear to a casual reader to be that old media-created issue location issue that ended up much ado about nothing. Mentioning that a Korean-American Judge had previously not found against Samsung in a totally unrelated case is more of the same effort to discredit her and throw suspicion on anyone else but Apple IMHO.

 

All in all a very poorly constructed article that is as misleading as it is explanatory.


Edited by Gatorguy - 6/13/12 at 4:25pm
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post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwydion View Post

 

And exactly where is the Korean company in this case? In the same palce that you're accusing the Judge of corruption?

 

 

The enemy of my enemy is ... a Korean company.

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by JerrySwitched26 View Post


The enemy of my enemy is ... a Korean company.
So you are against Apple?
post #18 of 28

From what I can tell the claim here is REALLY a stretch.  Part of their argument is that a "quote-free-unquote" app isn't free if it's used to collect data and/or because it takes up more space on your phone that you were led to believe?  The second part of that is patently absurd.  "OMG this 'free' app is using 140K of my 16 gig of storage!"  And for former argument could be used against every "free" Web site you visit.  By that definition Facebook isn't "free."  Good luck quantifying the "damage" this cost anyone.

post #19 of 28

setting aside the issue of whether they can prove that any of these companies shared data and what was shared, there's one thing about this that I say doesn't make sense. 

 

That they claim that because of this they overpaid for their phones. 

 

That to me rings false because they installed these apps on their own. So how can Apple be blamed for them being tracked in apps that they picked etc. 

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

setting aside the issue of whether they can prove that any of these companies shared data and what was shared, there's one thing about this that I say doesn't make sense. 

 

That they claim that because of this they overpaid for their phones. 

 

That to me rings false because they installed these apps on their own. So how can Apple be blamed for them being tracked in apps that they picked etc. 

 

Right.  And one remedy would be to delete the stupid app and get one with one's life.

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

 

Only if you're racist.


"Korean" is not a race. Nationalist bias, perhaps.

 

(I'm not suggesting she has this bias.)

post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerMach View Post


"Korean" is not a race. Nationalist bias, perhaps.

(I'm not suggesting she has this bias.)

It really depends on the definition. In fact, it's a fairly homogeneous group with relatively little recent blending with other groups. They claim that it's a race, although I don't believe it meets the strict definition.:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071101214052AAb1f0G

More accurately, though, it's not a race, but rather an ethnic group:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koreans

Either way, though, it's possible to exhibit biases base on national origin - whether you call it racism or not. I'm not saying that Koh did that, but you can't discard the possibility simply by arguing that it doesn't meet the strict definition of racism.
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Right.  And one remedy would be to delete the stupid app and get one with one's life.

That's the most bizarre thing about this. The app is free, it's installed voluntarily by the user, and it can easily be deleted without taking away from the functionality that Apple delivered in the phone. I don't see how anyone can show any damages.

That's one of the really bizarre thing about the court system. You have a case like this where Koh is letting a case proceed against Apple when it's hard to imagine how anyone can prove damages. At the same time, you have Posner getting ready to dismiss an Apple case against Samsung on the basis that while it appears that Samsung has violated Apple's design patents and is selling lots of phones (some of which presumably would have been Apple's sales otherwise) but Posner wants to dismiss it because damages haven't been proven.

Amazing.
Edited by jragosta - 6/14/12 at 10:56am
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post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


It really depends on the definition...

Either way, though, it's possible to exhibit biases base on national origin - whether you call it racism or not. I'm not saying that Koh did that, but you can't discard the possibility simply by arguing that it doesn't meet the strict definition of racism.
 

Anthropologically speaking there are four: Australoid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid. The term 'race' is related to anthropology, right? - I don't believe it should be applied to current winds blowing through common parlance. I feel it leads to incorrect overuse of the term racism.

 

I didn't mean to imply that I had discarded the possibility of a particular bias on the part of the judge. I meant to imply that I am severely uninformed about this particular judge and her record.

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerMach View Post

Anthropologically speaking there are four: Australoid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid. The term 'race' is related to anthropology, right? - I don't believe it should be applied to current winds blowing through common parlance. I feel it leads to incorrect overuse of the term racism.

I didn't mean to imply that I had discarded the possibility of a particular bias on the part of the judge. I meant to imply that I am severely uninformed about this particular judge and her record.

I agree, but the generic use of 'racism' doesn't change the point. Someone argued that Koh might be biased in favor of a Korean country because of her heritage. If that is true, it doesn't matter if you call it 'racism' or 'bias' or 'just plain stupid'.

Personally, I haven't seen any sign of racism. There have, however, been some pretty obvious signs in her decisions that she has a strong bias against Apple. Even having her most recent decision overturned by the appeals court doesn't seem to have changed that.
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post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

It was more the quote from her past that bothers me over her being a Korean American. So what information did you get that changed your perception? I am happy to be open minded that maybe there is no bias and hope that is the case.

Why mention it then? 

post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post

 

Only if you're racist.

He is actually a bigot, not a racist in this case.

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple Fanboy View Post

Again, you are missing the point and trying to make this a racist argument. I could not care less, if she was Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, German, African or what have you. But this is a case between a US Based company and a Korean company. This is a Korean American Judge who earlier in her law career wrote that one should mask their true opinions so their own judgments would not be questioned. Do not be ignorant to the fact that there may be an underlying bias and to remove that completely, put an African American, or Chinese American, or Canadian American, or what have you in her place to rule on the case.

You obviously do since you mentioned it in the first place...bigot.

post #28 of 28

This is a very strange discussion. Am I a racist/bigot if I bring up the fact that O.J. Simpson was acquitted by an all or mostly black jury, and suggest that racial identification may have played a part in the decision? How about if I also mention that the white killers of Emmitt Till were acquitted by an all-white jury? Am I being racist in one case but not in the other? If I'm white and question the O.J. decision, am I racist? What if I'm black? If I'm black and question the Emmitt Till decision am I being a racist?

 

Because of the racial history of this country, there are stereotypes of all kinds that we accept as a matter of fact - including the very question of who is being a racist in what situation.

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