Apple is facing a pair of lawsuits that claimed the company allowed advertisers to access the personal information of iPhone and iPad owners.
A seemingly indiscreet Apple is facing a pair of
lawsuits that claim the company allowed advertisers to access the personal
information of iPhone and iPad owners without their consent, according to a
publish report. These legal actions could also pave the way for more complaints
against other smartphone and application developers, such as Google.
A Dec. 23 complaint filed in a federal court in San
Jose, Calif., by Los Angeles man Jonathan Lalo accuses Apple of allowing
applications for the iPhone and iPad to share users personal information with
advertisers, according to Business Week
information is supplied by the devices Unique Device Identifier (UDID), which,
as the name implies, is unique to each device and intended to supply
information to AppStore developers. The lawsuit identifies applications such as
Pandora, The Weather Channel and Dictionary.com and names them as defendants
along with Apple.
Some apps are also selling additional information to
ad networks, including users location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual
orientation and political views, states the suit, according to Business Week.
The lawsuit seeks class-action status for Apple customers
who downloaded an application to their iPhone or iPad devices between Dec. 1,
2008 and mid-December 2010. The lawsuit has the potential to attract many
people. Back in April 2009, Apple celebrated the download of its one-billionth
app with a contest won by a 13 year old from Connecticut who was downloading
Bump, the contact-swapping application. During its most recent revenue
disclosure, Apple shared that during its fiscal 2010 fourth quarter alone, it
sold 14.1 million iPhones and 4.2 million iPads.
The second lawsuit, Freeman vs. Apple, also filed in
the Northern District of California, similarly focuses on Apples disclosure of
"[T]he iPhone and iPad come equipped with the tools
necessary to determine their geographic location. Thus, being able to identify
a unique device, and combining that information with the devices geographic
location, gives the advertiser a huge amount of information about the user of a
mobile device, states the Freeman complaint," according to Forbes
"From the perspective of advertisers engaged in surreptitious tracking, this is
a perfect means of tracking mobile device users interests and likes on the
Both lawsuits follow from a Dec. 18 report in the Wall
, in which reporters examined the behavior 101
popular smartphone apps. They found that 56 transmitted the phones UDID to
companies without the users consent, 47 transmitted the phones location and
five disclosed age, gender and other personal details. Pandora, for example,
sent information to eight companies, seven of which received location
information, three received the UDID and two received demographic data.
"We have created strong privacy protections for
our customers, especially regarding location-based data," Apple spokesman
Tom Neumayr told the Journal. "Privacy and trust are vitally
It's believed that Google may eventually be served
with similar papers, as, like Apple, it requires users to give applications
access to their information. Unlike Apple, however, Google doesn't review all
of the applications that it makes available.
According to the Journal, Google leaves it up to the
application makers to bear the responsibility for how they handle user
information. If users don't like what information an app wants access to, a
Google spokesperson reportedly told the Journal, they can choose not to install