Apple says iPhone tracking lawsuit doesn't demonstrate harm

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple is looking to block a class action lawsuit that claims the company wrongfully collected and distributed data from millions of customers' mobile devices, on the grounds that the plaintiffs in the case cannot prove their claims.

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


Apple legal representatives asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh at a hearing on Wednesday to deny a request from the plaintiffs' counsel to designate their case as a class action suit, Bloomberg reports. The suit is the same one Judge Koh said last year that Apple must defend against, though multiple defendants have been dropped from the claims.

The plaintiffs allege that Apple has allowed free apps from its iTunes App Store to gather personal information without their consent. Apple, they claim, gathered data on their geographical locations through apps on their iPhones and iPads even after they had signaled that they did not want such information collected.

Apple claims that the plaintiffs have failed to prove that any tracking resulted in harm to them. The lawyers for the plaintiffs recently dropped their claims to damages, Apple argued, and have only attempted to gain class-action status "in a desperate attempt" to recover fees.

Previously, AdMarvel Inc, Admob Inc, Flurry Inc, and Google had been named as defendants in the case, but all have been dropped since the case began, leaving only Apple.

The suit hinged upon apps' access to a mobile device's unique device identifier (UDID), a number given to each wireless iDevice allowing ad agencies to track usage across apps. Apple has begun restricting UDID usage by apps, as well as rejecting some apps that use the code, but a few are still allowed to access the UDID.
michaelplant
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 62
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    That sounds liek a pretty bad argument to me.
    If Apple can win on this, any other company can just harvest any information, whether or not the people signal their opposition... as long as they can't demonstrate that it "causes harm to them".

    To me, that data harvesting causes harm because it stresses these people. I hope Apple loses on that one (but if it were Samsung, it'd be the same, it's not an Apple issue, it's a privacy rights issue).

    I'm pretty sure anyone who bashed Brin yesterday about those "stalking glasses" will agree with me that Apple's doing the same mistake as he, here.
  • Reply 2 of 62


    Meanwhile that little "problem" where Google allows developers to know your real name and e-mail (among other things) seems to have disappeared.

  • Reply 3 of 62
    irelandireland Posts: 17,737member
    I don't give a shit if a company knows my location. What I care about is does a company have policies in place where you must agree to share your e-mail address with a third party. Facebook and Google make you share it with Zynga if you want to play their game. Apple doesn't. This I like. This is all I care about.
  • Reply 4 of 62
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    That sounds liek a pretty bad argument to me.
    If Apple can win on this, any other company can just harvest any information, whether or not the people signal their opposition... as long as they can't demonstrate that it "causes harm to them".

    To me, that data harvesting causes harm because it stresses these people. I hope Apple loses on that one (but if it were Samsung, it'd be the same, it's not an Apple issue, it's a privacy rights issue).

    I'm pretty sure anyone who bashed Brin yesterday about those "stalking glasses" will agree with me that Apple's doing the same mistake as he, here.

    You're missing the point.

    For anyone to actually be harmed, they have to:
    1. Have location services turned on
    2. Use their phone for a while
    this is the big one:
    3. Give their phone to someone else who can manually access this history.
    and
    4. Since the history is only one of which cell towers you were near, you have to show the harm from someone knowing retroactively (after they have access to your phone) where you were within a 5 mile radius.

    It's just not that easy to figure out how someone is harmed by someone knowing that last November they visited Boston.
  • Reply 5 of 62
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Meanwhile that little "problem" where Google allows developers to know your real name and e-mail (among other things) seems to have disappeared.

    Of course. The analysts are still busy driving AAPL down and pumping Google up.
  • Reply 6 of 62
    jragosta wrote: »
    You're missing the point.

    For anyone to actually be harmed, they have to:
    1. Have location services turned on
    2. Use their phone for a while
    this is the big one:
    3. Give their phone to someone else who can manually access this history.
    and
    4. Since the history is only one of which cell towers you were near, you have to show the harm from someone knowing retroactively (after they have access to your phone) where you were within a 5 mile radius.

    It's just not that easy to figure out how someone is harmed by someone knowing that last November they visited Boston.
    Wow, mister privacy is ok with a breach as long as it's Apple allowing the breaching? I seem to recall another recent thread where you claimed that people were foolish to let Google anonymously track their location using the same cell tower method that you claim here is innocuous. Inconsistencies in your opinion aside, you don't have to physically hand someone your phone and let them look at your location history for it to be accessed. This lawsuit came about because apps were accessing this information, giving developers remote access.
  • Reply 7 of 62
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Can a UDID be mapped back to a real person? If all the tracking shows is that *an iPhone* has been to these places, I don't see the problem.
  • Reply 8 of 62
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Wow, mister privacy is ok with a breach as long as it's Apple allowing the breaching? I seem to recall another recent thread where you claimed that people were foolish to let Google anonymously track their location using the same cell tower method that you claim here is innocuous.

    So you've shown that you have a good imagination. I never said any such thing.

    There's a world of difference between the two matters. Apple was simply stating which cell tower was closest (which was actually necessary for decent phone service, anyway). Google collects mountains of private information about you specifically and what you are doing.

    If you can't see the difference between "you were somewhere around Boston 6 months ago" and "you purchased $52 worth of lingerie at 1273 Bowdon St on January 13", then there's no point even discussing it.

    Furthermore, Apple didn't do anything with that data. Google routinely sells it.
  • Reply 9 of 62
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,213member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by wakefinance View Post





    Wow, mister privacy is ok with a breach as long as it's Apple allowing the breaching? I seem to recall another recent thread where you claimed that people were foolish to let Google anonymously track their location using the same cell tower method that you claim here is innocuous. Inconsistencies in your opinion aside, you don't have to physically hand someone your phone and let them look at your location history for it to be accessed. This lawsuit came about because apps were accessing this information, giving developers remote access.


    But in this case, the data was never "harvested" for Apple.  It was available only to the user of the phone and was NOT, as you claim, available to other apps using the phone.

  • Reply 10 of 62

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    So you've shown that you have a good imagination. I never said any such thing.



    There's a world of difference between the two matters. Apple was simply stating which cell tower was closest (which was actually necessary for decent phone service, anyway). Google collects mountains of private information about you specifically and what you are doing.



    If you can't see the difference between "you were somewhere around Boston 6 months ago" and "you purchased $52 worth of lingerie at 1273 Bowdon St on January 13", then there's no point even discussing it.



    Furthermore, Apple didn't do anything with that data. Google routinely sells it.


     


    http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/156107/google-steps-further-into-the-hardware-fray-announces-touchscreen-chromebook-pixel/80#post_2282196


     


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    Every time you use Google Maps, they track your location. Every time you use their search, you become a target for ads. Everything in your gmail account is theirs to use as they wish.


     


    As far as location is concerned, Google also only collects cell tower information unless you are in the Maps application, actively using GPS, which is the same case on the iPhone.


     


    Again, Google does not sell your information.  They use it to sell ads, but the clients whose ads were sold to you never know to whom those ads were sold or even know information about "anonymous phone user #5698441538".  Any proof you have to the contrary would be accepted, but since, as I said in the same thread from which I linked your quote, I work as an intern for an e-commerce company that places ads on search engines including Google, I know you won't find any.

  • Reply 11 of 62

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post


    But in this case, the data was never "harvested" for Apple.  It was available only to the user of the phone and was NOT, as you claim, available to other apps using the phone.



    Did you read the article?  It says "Apple has allowed free apps from its iTunes App Store to gather personal information without their consent."

  • Reply 12 of 62
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by wakefinance View Post

    Did you read the article?  It says "Apple has allowed free apps from its iTunes App Store to gather personal information without their consent."


     


    Thanks for playing. Maybe you missed the word "alleged" earlier in the sentence. Happens to everyone, but probably not you, since your entire argument hinges on it not being there.

  • Reply 13 of 62
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,826member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    Furthermore, Apple didn't do anything with that data. Google routinely sells it.


    JR, take a few minutes to educate yourself. You don't do the forum members any favor by continuing to spread misinformation, and worse even after being corrected more than once on the issue. Google does not sell user data any more than Apple does. That explains why you've never been able to offer any citations whenever you've made the claim they do. 


     


    Holding a different opinion, or having a different outlook is one thing. We obviously disagree on a lot of things. Your clear posting of untruths (to be polite) is quite another. Why add to the mountains of FUD?

  • Reply 14 of 62
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,510member
    The fact that Google is doing worse doesn't change that this was bad. If people hadn't noticed that could have been used for bad purposes.
  • Reply 15 of 62
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member

    OK, so you have an imagination and you can't read. Let's review.

    You stated that I said it was bad when Google routinely tracks your information from cell towers.

    What I actually said was that it was bad that Google tracks your location every time you use Google Maps - wihch uses GPS information.

    See the difference?

    gatorguy wrote: »
    JR, take a few minutes to educate yourself. You don't do the forum members any favor by continuing to spread misinformation, and worse even after being corrected more than once on the issue. Google does not sell user data any more than Apple does. That explains why you've never been able to offer any citations whenever you've made the claim they do. 

    Holding a different opinion, or having a different outlook is one thing. We obviously disagree on a lot of things. Your clear posting of untruths (to be polite) is quite another. Why add to the mountains of FUD?

    Well, you'd be the expert on mountains of FUD - because you contribute most of it.

    Like it or not, Google is probably the biggest threat to individual privacy on the planet. Their entire business is based on learning everything they can about you and selling that information.

    Your incessant FUD doesn't change that.
  • Reply 16 of 62
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member


    How quickly people forget that AI just posted an article on how much the government loves tracking stuff like this when they look at a phone:


     


     


    ICE iPhone seizure shows extent of government's data retrieval abilities


    (Sorry for the size.  That's how the link copied over.)


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post



    If all the tracking shows is that *an iPhone* has been to these places, I don't see the problem.


     


    Being able to look on a phone and easily see the general areas a person has been, had all sorts of privacy and safety issues... although more from the non-government side, since this can be info that a regular user can access.


     


    Imagine if a spouse abuser gets hold of his victim's phone and extracts the info... now they know the general area of the victim's safe house and can stalk them there.   Ditto for criminal or terrorist or spy groups who want to see if their newest "recruits" also visit Washington DC to meet with officials, etc.


     


    Location services are great;  people just need to be aware of certain files and logging if their situation requires it.

  • Reply 17 of 62

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Thanks for playing. Maybe you missed the word "alleged" earlier in the sentence. Happens to everyone, but probably not you, since your entire argument hinges on it not being there.



     


    I saw it, but he used an absolute ("never"), so I quoted in absolute terms.

  • Reply 18 of 62

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    OK, so you have an imagination and you can't read. Let's review.



    You stated that I said it was bad when Google routinely tracks your information from cell towers.



    What I actually said was that it was bad that Google tracks your location every time you use Google Maps - wihch uses GPS information.



    See the difference?


    Fair point.  I see the difference in your opinions of Google tracking via cell towers being ok vs. tracking by GPS in Maps being not ok.

  • Reply 19 of 62

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post





    Their entire business is based on learning everything they can about you and selling that information keeping that information as closely guarded as possible so that they can profit from it long term, as there is no evidence to the contrary.


    Fixed.

  • Reply 20 of 62
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,826member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    Like it or not, Google is probably the biggest threat to individual privacy on the planet. Their entire business is based on learning everything they can about you and selling that information.



    Your incessant FUD doesn't change that.


    Back to your old standbys: Make it personal and attempt to change the subject. Carry on sir.


     


    Still having trouble finding that proof of Google selling your personal information I see but don't let that stop you. On the anonymous net you can claim anything you want whether it's true or not.

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