Apple Urges Court To Reject Class-Action Status In Privacy Battle

Apple is arguing in new court papers that iPhone users suing the company for allegedly allowing app developers to access personal information should not be able to proceed with a class-action.

Apple says the consumers haven't presented “a shred of evidence that even a single app transmitted 'personal information.'” The company is asking U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California to reject the consumers' bid for class-action status.

The consumers argue that Apple misled them by promising to protect their personal information, but then allowing developers to access iPhones unique device identifiers -- 40-character alphanumeric strings. But Apple says that the users who filed suit can't show that they relied on any statements by Apple in its privacy policy, or that they personally suffered any economic harm as a result of the allegations. “None of the Plaintiffs contend that they saw, relied on, or considered material to their purchasing decision an alleged Apple misrepresentation before they bought their iPhones,” Apple argues.

The consumers brought the case three years ago, shortly after reports surfaced alleging that developers were able to access iPhone and iPad unique device identifiers. Apple defines unique device identifiers as non-personal information. But the consumers argue that the identifiers become “personally identifiable information” when combined with other supposedly anonymous information, such as Zip codes, occupation or area code.

Apple counters in its papers that the consumers have no evidence that anyone actually combined device identifiers with other data. The company adds that an expert hired by the consumers was not able to find “a single example of an app combining UDID with personal information.”

Shortly after it was sued, Apple promised to limit developers' ability to access unique device identifiers. More recently, the company rolled out advertising identifiers, which function like unique device identifiers, but differ in that they can be reset by consumers.

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