Apple sued again over App Store data collection allegations

Posted:
in iOS
Apple has become the target of another class action lawsuit over privacy, one claiming the iPhone maker has conducted "systemic violations" of wiretapping, privacy, and consumer fraud laws.




Filed on January 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the lawsuit from plaintiff Joaquin Serrano on behalf "of himself and all others similarly situated" accuses Apple of collecting data from its users.

In a "flagrant violation of consumer privacy," the complaint alleges that Apple records and uses the personal information and activity of consumers, drawn from products like the iPhone and apps. This is allegedly performed even if the user enters settings that they don't want data shared.

According to the suit, Apple is said to promote its settings and options to limit and disable various device analytics-related functions, as well as the sharing of analytics.

"Yet, Apple does not honor users' requests to restrict data sharing," the suit alleges.

Mysk research

A lot of the complaint hinges on research from iOS developers Mysk in November, which discovered that Apple had the potential to identify a user in analytics it collects, via a unique identifier that may be associated with a user's iCloud account.

Since the complaint deems that Apple has deceived consumers of its alleged data collection activity who may have followed the company's instructions to prevent sharing, the lawsuit insists this is an "unlawful interception of a communication" that violates Pennsylvania's wiretapping laws.

Across five counts, the lawsuit accuses Apple of the wiretapping and electronic surveillance act violations, the violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, an invasion of privacy, a breach of an implied contract, and "unjust enrichment."

Given that user data collection by a tech giant on users is not illegal in itself, the entire case hinges on the definition of "shared." Apple does not sell the data it possesses on any given user, and some level of Apple knowing what the user is doing is required as a function of how the internet works.

According to attorneys that AppleInsider has spoken with since the filing of the suit, "unlawful interception of a communication" is unlikely to hold any weight, nor is invasion of privacy given the willful use of the device by the user.

The complaint demands a trial by jury.

Among the listings of a prayer for relief, the complaint asks the court for a declaration of law violations, a trebling of compensatory and actual damages exceeding $5 million, relief including punitive damages and civil penalties, costs of prosecution, attorney's fees, to prevent Apple from continuing the violations and any other relief deemed "just and proper."

Joaquin Serrano vs. Apple is case number 23-cv-70 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It's not clear when the case will be heard.

Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit filing, and it is unlikely to do so until closer to a trial, if at all. Representatives from Pollock Cohen, Ahdoot & Wolfson, and Shub Law Firm are listed as attorneys for the plaintiff and proposed class.

This is not the only class action lawsuit Apple faces over reports of data collection. In November, one attempted class action complaint references research that Apple records, tracks, collects, and monetizes analytics data, regardless of safeguards or a consumers' selected privacy settings.

Serrano vs Apple Privacy Class Action by Mike Wuerthele on Scribd

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,582member
    A lot of the complaint hinges on research from iOS developers Mysk in November, which discovered that Apple had the potential to identify a user in analytics it collects
    I think this is even more important. The question isn’t whether what Apple is doing is in violation. The question is are they doing it. Potential is not proof of action. 
    rob53williamlondonwatto_cobrabaconstang
  • Reply 2 of 9
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,510member
    DAalseth said:
    A lot of the complaint hinges on research from iOS developers Mysk in November, which discovered that Apple had the potential to identify a user in analytics it collects
    I think this is even more important. The question isn’t whether what Apple is doing is in violation. The question is are they doing it. Potential is not proof of action. 
    It has less to do with whether anyone's been personally identified (maybe they have or maybe they haven't) than with the fact that Apple says in order to prevent the data transfer altogether all we need to do is toggle it off in settings. That's been factually proven wrong. Apple is collecting user engagement data anyway, analytics, most likely to prove to advertisers the value of their ad platform.

    Ten years ago Google was punished for something quite similar: Not for invading a user's privacy but for telling Safari users in writing that all they had to do to prevent data collection is toggle an Apple OS privacy setting in the browser. But that wasn't totally disabling it, and Google was properly fined despite proclamations it was all a misunderstanding.  It was not IMHO. 

    I expect Apple too will claim it was all innocent, just a misunderstanding if they choose to acknowledge the issue at all. So far their way of addressing it is total silence. That didn't work a decade ago for another company and is not likely to this time either.
    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 3 of 9
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,090member
    Another frivolous lawsuit based on conjecture without any real evidence. Judge needs to immediately toss it with possible sanctions. I’m tired of all the wasted tax dollars supporting people without any hard evidence. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    ...has this been ongoing since Mr. Cook took over, most obviously (for me) with the Photos app introduced in 2014, auto tagging and 'all roads' leading to iCloud by default...?

    Do many OS changes touted as upgrades also potentially encroach further on user privacy in an opaque quid pro quo ?

    I hope the powers that be drill down as far as possible to the real bottom of this and if warranted go after Apple with everything they can especially for deceptive marketing...  If this misrepresentation is as big as it seems, perhaps those responsible might even enjoy a change of residence in suit(s)...

    Do fines ever really teach such deceptive actors a lesson, or is it deemed cynically merely a cost of doing business...?


    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonbaconstang
  • Reply 5 of 9
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,090member
    I wish people would quit harping on Apple when the majority of you allow your information to be used by all sorts of businesses and corporations. I can't even see a doctor without giving them my SSN and complete history. We all do this, except for those who don't use anyone in the medical field. Home Depot constantly sends me targeted ads, so do most of the other retail stores. They're obvious about it while Apple is at least trying to keep the amount of personal information to an absolute minimum. Google and Microsoft, along with all the cellular and cable companies, grab all your information and I really don't see anyone (here) complaining about that.
    williamlondonwatto_cobramdwbaconstang
  • Reply 6 of 9
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,510member
    rob53 said: Google and Microsoft, along with all the cellular and cable companies, grab all your information and I really don't see anyone (here) complaining about that.
    Huh?? You don't follow too many discussions then.
    muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 7 of 9
    ...has this been ongoing since Mr. Cook took over, most obviously (for me) with the Photos app introduced in 2014, auto tagging and 'all roads' leading to iCloud by default...?

    Do many OS changes touted as upgrades also potentially encroach further on user privacy in an opaque quid pro quo ?

    I hope the powers that be drill down as far as possible to the real bottom of this and if warranted go after Apple with everything they can especially for deceptive marketing...  If this misrepresentation is as big as it seems, perhaps those responsible might even enjoy a change of residence in suit(s)...

    Do fines ever really teach such deceptive actors a lesson, or is it deemed cynically merely a cost of doing business...?


    Captain Judge-n-Jury here concludes that potential is proof of committing a crime, then convicts and starts to assign punishment.

    Get ahead of things much, jumpy?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    Class action lawsuits are a big load of male bovine feces. Nobody gets anything out of them except the lawyers. I hope the judge tosses this one. 

    If you want to sue Apple for a wrongdoing then get real proof of it and sue them for an actual violation yourself instead of hiding behind vague accusations. 

  • Reply 9 of 9
    ...has this been ongoing since Mr. Cook took over, most obviously (for me) with the Photos app introduced in 2014, auto tagging and 'all roads' leading to iCloud by default...?

    Do many OS changes touted as upgrades also potentially encroach further on user privacy in an opaque quid pro quo ?

    I hope the powers that be drill down as far as possible to the real bottom of this and if warranted go after Apple with everything they can especially for deceptive marketing...  If this misrepresentation is as big as it seems, perhaps those responsible might even enjoy a change of residence in suit(s)...

    Do fines ever really teach such deceptive actors a lesson, or is it deemed cynically merely a cost of doing business...?


    Captain Judge-n-Jury here concludes that potential is proof of committing a crime, then convicts and starts to assign punishment.
    Get ahead of things much, jumpy?
    Is this more than potential, and perhaps just scratching the surface (behind) of the nature of the beast:  gizmodo.com/apple-iphone-privacy-analytics-class-action-suit-1849774313

    Is the only real disincentive to restrict the rights and freedoms of those responsible ?  What other kind of penalty can actually have a meaningful effect at this scale...? How might other CEOs react if a certain CEO ended up with complimentary life tenure in a cell with no chance of parole ?  How is the US legal system generally considered a global corporate scale for such things...?  Some argue it is a country built on slavery vs freedom.

    And on happiness: www.cnbc.com/2023/01/05/what-people-in-finland-happiest-country-in-world-never-do-according-to-psychologist.html
    edited January 11
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