Class action suit filed against Apple, Pandora, Backflip over iPhone data privacy

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A new lawsuit has been filed against Apple and two third party app developers, Pandora Media and Paper Toss maker Backflip Studios, claiming damages for users over allegations that their unauthorized private data was used to deliver targeted ads.



The case, filed in New York on behalf of Jarret Ammer by Peter Cambs of the Parker Waichman Alonso law firm, appears to be similar to a case filed in San Jose, California, last December.



Like the previous suit, the new complaint appears to be patterned directly upon a Wall Street Journal article which highlighted mobile apps as using the same kind of anonymous user tracking "cookies" that conventional web ad networks use to improve the relevance of display ads.



The difference between the two cases involving smartphone apps and traditional web cookies is that smartphones have a Unique Device ID (UDID) that advertisers can reliably associate with a given user, and which may be linked with location data collected as the user carries the device.



The suit notes that "Apple certainly understands the significance of its UDID and users' privacy, as, internally Apple claims that it treats UDID information as 'personally identifiable information' because, if combined with other information, it can be used to personally identify a user."



However, the complaint also says Apple "does not provide users any way to delete or restrict access to their devices' UDIDs," and that while the company has set up policies to prohibit and remove any apps that "collect and send device data to a third party for processing or analysis," it continues to collect data allegedly collected from users without their consent.



The suit specifically notes that two apps described by the Wall Street Journal article are collecting data but not providing any "location based services" as outlined in the terms of service distributed with iPhone and iPad devices.



"None of these Defendants adequately disclose to Plaintiff and members of the proposed Class that they are transmitting such information to third-party advertising networks," the complaint states. "Plaintiff and members of the proposed class were harmed by Defendants' actions in that their personal, private information was obtained without their knowledge or consent."



The suit adds that Apple "aided and abetted" third party software developers by giving them "substantial assistance," opening the company up to liability for other defendant's torts. It also notes that because Apple is in a joint venture with third party developers, it is "thus legally responsible for the tortuous conduct alleged."



The complaint states that by "accessing and transmitting UDID and location data on the [smartphone] computer of Plaintiff and members of the proposed class, Defendants have accessed Plaintiffs' computer ? in excess of the authorization" of those users, alleging that the defendants have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and New York Computer Crime Law.



The suit says the transmission of users' device IDs and location data "caused harm aggregating at least $5,000 in value," and seeks "recovery for this loss, as well as injunctive relief, to prevent future harm."



The suit also alleges that Apple and its developers have violated general business law related to "unconscionable and deceptive conduct" as well as "trespass to personal property" and taking property "in the form of information that is private and personal."





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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    Yawn... lame. More and more suits. The lawyers also have a life, does anyone recognize that?
  • Reply 2 of 27
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Oh yeah it is WAY worse to have ads shoved in my face that actually pertain to something I might actually be interested in than some utterly random or entirely inappropriate ad.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    plokoonpmaplokoonpma Posts: 262member
    This is funny, In my country you can get sued if you try to base your sue based on comments, post or even publications of newspapers since those could be not true or have partial issue on the matter and have no prove at all.

    Then we have all this sues based on fear or a supposed danger that your privacy is at risk.
  • Reply 4 of 27
    Wtf that's all I can say...
  • Reply 5 of 27
    Pointless lawsuit indeed.



    Why?



    Because when targeted ads become annoying (as they inevitably will), no one will ever pay attention to any of them. It's a total waste of time, and the only people who don't know it yet are the people still pushing this technology. People will tune out and have to be tricked to see ads as Google did.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    Another week, another lawsuit.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    I forgot to mention:



    Counter suit in 3...2...1...
  • Reply 8 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    Oh yeah it is WAY worse to have ads shoved in my face that actually pertain to something I might actually be interested in than some utterly random or entirely inappropriate ad.



    "Tortuous" should be "tortious" as in a tort.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    macboy58macboy58 Posts: 11member
    Whores.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A new lawsuit has been filed against Apple and two third party app developers, Pandora Media and Paper Toss maker Backflip Studios, claiming damages for users over allegations that their unauthorized private data was used to deliver targeted ads. ...



    These people seem to seriously misunderstand the technology being used.



    Is it just me or do most of these lawsuits seem to emerge from similar misunderstandings? The cell phone radiation lawsuits came from folks that didn't understand what "radiation" really is and does, and the lawsuits and complaints about the antenna seem to come from folks that don't understand the science behind that.



    Even the complaints about Obamas birth certificate basically come from folks that don't understand how technology has replaced paper copies of documents. They keep asking to "see the real one" when in fact nothing exists except print-outs of the original data.



    Ignorance multiplied by the speed of technology equals lawsuit?
  • Reply 11 of 27
    The freedom of the American.... Ooooh!





    -------



    This, is just angry for angry sake. Doesn't know how things work or bothered to read.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:

    However, the complaint also says Apple "does not provide users any way to delete or restrict access to their devices' UDIDs," and that while the company has set up policies to prohibit and remove any apps that "collect and send device data to a third party for processing or analysis," it continues to collect data allegedly collected from users without their consent.



    The suit specifically notes that two apps described by the Wall Street Journal article are collecting data but not providing any "location based services" as outlined in the terms of service distributed with iPhone and iPad devices.



    If these allegations are true, the suit is well-founded.



    And I agree the user, not Apple, should have control over when UDIDs are sent, and when they are not.
  • Reply 13 of 27
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    These people seem to seriously misunderstand the technology being used.



    This has nothing whatsoever to do with technology. This is a question of privacy policy.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    These people seem to seriously misunderstand the technology being used.



    Is it just me or do most of these lawsuits seem to emerge from similar misunderstandings? The cell phone radiation lawsuits came from folks that didn't understand what "radiation" really is and does, and the lawsuits and complaints about the antenna seem to come from folks that don't understand the science behind that.



    ....



    Radiation makes people crazy strong, particularly when delivered in high gamma-ray doses or through a radioactive spider. I Googled it.



    Targeted advertising, on the other hand, makes plaintiffs and their lawyers crazy stupid. Then again, they possibly were already crazy stupid and just needed the advertising to free their super-powers.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    This has nothing whatsoever to do with technology. This is a question of privacy policy.



    But the alleged breaches of privacy are entirely contingent on the technology in use and how it's being deployed.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    These people seem to seriously misunderstand the technology being used.



    Is it just me or do most of these lawsuits seem to emerge from similar misunderstandings? The cell phone radiation lawsuits came from folks that didn't understand what "radiation" really is and does, and the lawsuits and complaints about the antenna seem to come from folks that don't understand the science behind that.



    Even the complaints about Obamas birth certificate basically come from folks that don't understand how technology has replaced paper copies of documents. They keep asking to "see the real one" when in fact nothing exists except print-outs of the original data.



    Ignorance multiplied by the speed of technology equals lawsuit?



    Danger-- if you say "birthers" three times they appear.
  • Reply 17 of 27
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    If these allegations are true, the suit is well-founded.



    And I agree the user, not Apple, should have control over when UDIDs are sent, and when they are not.



    If the apps are popping the 'This Application Wants To Access Your Location' when not doing any location related stuff beyond ads, I think they're violating current Apple policy, in which case I'm not sure how that makes Apple an accomplice, but hey, it's a lawsuit, not logic.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Danger-- if you say "birthers" three times they appear.



    You can't prove that!
  • Reply 19 of 27
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    But the alleged breaches of privacy are entirely contingent on the technology in use and how it's being deployed.



    Not at all. If the device was sending a unique user ID to Apple via carrier pigeon, the issue would remain as it is now. Similarly, whether or not a given person likes how Apple handles the data is irrelevant.



    The issue is what constitutes personal information, what are the individual's rights for keeping such information private, and Apple's rights and policies for using and sharing that information. Specifically, Apple's practices must conform both with their own stated policy and with the law.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrstep View Post


    If the apps are popping the 'This Application Wants To Access Your Location' when not doing any location related stuff beyond ads, I think they're violating current Apple policy, in which case I'm not sure how that makes Apple an accomplice, but hey, it's a lawsuit, not logic.



    Well, I disagree with our friends here at AppleInsider that this suit is about location data. It's about being able to identify an individual from the data Apple collects and shares. Apple's policies claim they don't do that. This suit claims they do.
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