Social media firms offer $5.3M settlement in iOS app privacy suit over contact uploads

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A group of eight social media companies, including Twitter and Instagram, have agreed to pay a total of $5.3 million to settle a 2012 class action lawsuit which alleges user privacy was breached when the apps leveraged an iOS feature that uploaded details from users' contact lists.




The settlement agreement, filed earlier this week in a San Francisco federal court, proposes that Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Yelp, Path, Gowalla, Foodspotting, and Kik pay into the $5.3 million fund, reports Law360. Aside from attorney's fees, the settlement will be provided to qualifying claimants, defined as anyone in the United States who downloaded and used the apps between 2009 and 2012.

The millions of downloads for each app could mean that those applying for a payment may receive only a small cut, but are eligible for up to eight shares if they used all of the identified apps. If the settlement is accepted by the judge, the payments could be made out to claimants later this year in the form of checks and Amazon credit.

The five-year-old suit centers around a feature of iOS developers could integrate with their app, one that allowed users to find others on their contacts list who used the same online service. It is claimed the app developers violated user privacy by not informing them that the feature would upload a list of user contacts to the companies' servers for cross-checking.

The defending companies argue that transferring and storing contact lists on their servers is required in order for "Find Friends" to correctly function, and had gained permission to do so, but U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar disagreed.

According to a Courthouse News Service report concerning Yelp's arguments, Judge Tigar ruled in September last year that the companies did not explicitly disclose to users their intentions to upload the contact information. Judge Tigar also dismissed arguments that users agreeing to terms of service and privacy policies was sufficient enough consent for the data transfers, as the privacy policy terms were not on-screen within the apps, and accessible only by a link to an informational webpage.

While the eight firms will effectively end their participation in the class action suit if the court accepts the proposed settlement, the class action case will still remain active. After starting with 18 defendants, only Apple and LinkedIn will continue fighting the case in court.

App Settlement for Twitter Etc by jeff_roberts881 on Scribd

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    Oh oh!  I hope I get the full 85 cents (or whatever) that the most affected consumers get!  Because that's exactly what my privacy is worth.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 6
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,364member
    Oh oh!  I hope I get the full 85 cents (or whatever) that the most affected consumers get!  Because that's exactly what my privacy is worth.
    My thoughts exactly. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 6
    The lawyer did it only for them, not for the public. I see too many of those case where they don't care about us, they just care about a being paid. Where would I be able to find the amount the lawyer were paid ?
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 6
    Notice that it was the alliance of social media companies who OFFERED the 5.3 million settlement. 

    They know now they lost the case. 

    So so they want to minimize damages. And avoid having their reputations slung through the mud. 

    If samsung copying an ipads look and feel is worth 1.3 BILLION, then stealing the personal and private contact lists of hundreds of million he of people is worth much more. 

    It almost seems they hired a lawyer to "sue them" for a paltry amount, supposedly representing a class of people. 

    No real lawyer would settle for this plankton when entire schools of fish are to be easily had. 

    In marketing, companies pay big money for lists of people's contact info so they can advertise to them. 

    These companies STOLE that info from people who trusted them. They should be barred from using it. 

    And theyve gain gain more than they would from any list. Phone numbers, emails, addresses, notes, even pictures in some cases. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 6
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,595member
    Notice that it was the alliance of social media companies who OFFERED the 5.3 million settlement. 

    They know now they lost the case. 

    So so they want to minimize damages. And avoid having their reputations slung through the mud. 

    If samsung copying an ipads look and feel is worth 1.3 BILLION, then stealing the personal and private contact lists of hundreds of million he of people is worth much more. 

    It almost seems they hired a lawyer to "sue them" for a paltry amount, supposedly representing a class of people. 

    No real lawyer would settle for this plankton when entire schools of fish are to be easily had. 

    In marketing, companies pay big money for lists of people's contact info so they can advertise to them. 

    These companies STOLE that info from people who trusted them. They should be barred from using it. 

    And theyve gain gain more than they would from any list. Phone numbers, emails, addresses, notes, even pictures in some cases. 
    Notice that Apple is on that list of defendants too, so perhaps you might reconsider what you think are the damages.

    FWIW harvesting contacts is done by a plethora of apps you have on your iPhone in all likelihood. Even that of course pales in relation to the amount of your personal information being harvested and sold by credit bureaus, banks, retailers, government agencies, insurers, social organizations, and massive date aggregators like Experian, Acxiom and Datalogix (owned by Oracle) whose only business is collecting and selling very personal information about you.

    I will guarantee those three companies ( and thousands of smaller ones like them) have a hefty file on you with real names, addresses, income, work history, religious/sexual persuasion, health status, what prescriptions you take, your children's names, schools, relatives names/addresses, what you owe, where you bank, what you drive, your neighbors names, the general layout of your home, what you watch on TV, your debts, your credit cards, your driver's license and social security numbers...

    ... and it's all for sale to those wanting it for whatever purpose whether it be an insurance policy, product marketing, investigation, employment check, "research", etc. 

    I think you and others worry far too little about what's going on in the real world, fooling yourselves into believing hiding on-line activities fixes your privacy issues. If you are on-line you're already compromised (TOR/Dark web perhaps an exception.... perhaps. I've read those are compromised too.) Some service collecting your contacts is a drop in the ocean. 

    If you want to see just how clueless you probably are have a read:
    https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/bd5dad8b-a9e8-4fe9-a2a7-b17f4798ee5a/D5E458CDB663175E9D73231DF42EC040.12.18.13-senate-commerce-committee-report-on-data-broker-industry.pdf
    TLDR?
    Here's an abridged version:
    https://www.aclu.org/blog/senate-report-opens-window-hidden-world-data-aggregators
    edited April 2017
  • Reply 6 of 6
    sirozhasirozha Posts: 551member
    gatorguy said:
    Notice that it was the alliance of social media companies who OFFERED the 5.3 million settlement. 

    They know now they lost the case. 

    So so they want to minimize damages. And avoid having their reputations slung through the mud. 

    If samsung copying an ipads look and feel is worth 1.3 BILLION, then stealing the personal and private contact lists of hundreds of million he of people is worth much more. 

    It almost seems they hired a lawyer to "sue them" for a paltry amount, supposedly representing a class of people. 

    No real lawyer would settle for this plankton when entire schools of fish are to be easily had. 

    In marketing, companies pay big money for lists of people's contact info so they can advertise to them. 

    These companies STOLE that info from people who trusted them. They should be barred from using it. 

    And theyve gain gain more than they would from any list. Phone numbers, emails, addresses, notes, even pictures in some cases. 
    Notice that Apple is on that list of defendants too, so perhaps you might reconsider what you think are the damages.

    FWIW harvesting contacts is done by a plethora of apps you have on your iPhone in all likelihood. Even that of course pales in relation to the amount of your personal information being harvested and sold by credit bureaus, banks, retailers, government agencies, insurers, social organizations, and massive date aggregators like Experian, Acxiom and Datalogix (owned by Oracle) whose only business is collecting and selling very personal information about you.

    I will guarantee those three companies ( and thousands of smaller ones like them) have a hefty file on you with real names, addresses, income, work history, religious/sexual persuasion, health status, what prescriptions you take, your children's names, schools, relatives names/addresses, what you owe, where you bank, what you drive, your neighbors names, the general layout of your home, what you watch on TV, your debts, your credit cards, your driver's license and social security numbers...

    ... and it's all for sale to those wanting it for whatever purpose whether it be an insurance policy, product marketing, investigation, employment check, "research", etc. 

    I think you and others worry far too little about what's going on in the real world, fooling yourselves into believing hiding on-line activities fixes your privacy issues. If you are on-line you're already compromised (TOR/Dark web perhaps an exception.... perhaps. I've read those are compromised too.) Some service collecting your contacts is a drop in the ocean. 

    If you want to see just how clueless you probably are have a read:
    https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/bd5dad8b-a9e8-4fe9-a2a7-b17f4798ee5a/D5E458CDB663175E9D73231DF42EC040.12.18.13-senate-commerce-committee-report-on-data-broker-industry.pdf
    TLDR?
    Here's an abridged version:
    https://www.aclu.org/blog/senate-report-opens-window-hidden-world-data-aggregators
    All of this may be true, but the dossier for each person is compiled from small pieces of information. These apps and Apple colluded in stealing private information from millions of people. It happened to me as well, so I am all in favor of punishing this behavior even if Apple is one of the parties to be punished. The settlement should be 5 billion if not 50 billion dollars, which is commensurate with the damage that these companies caused.  Five million dollars is a cop-out similar to being stopped by a cop for speeding in a school zone and given a 5-cent fine. 
    edited April 2017
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