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Apple May Want To Regift Christmas Privacy Lawsuits To Google

A new class action lawsuit claiming iPhone and iPad devices share personally identifiable information about their users habits with advertisers has been filed against Apple. The suit alleges the devices, "allow advertising networks to track what applications users download, how frequently they're used and for how long," reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Additionally the suit, which also claims the transmissions are a violation of federal wiretap laws, names several app publishers including Pandora and the Weather Channel as defendants along with Apple, charging that the apps sell information "including users' location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and political views," per the filing, which was brought on behalf of Jonathan Lalo of Los Angeles County on Dec. 23.

Quipping, "It's always sad when two people give you the same present for Christmas, especially if it's not a present you want," Forbes reports that a second, nearly identical suit was filed against Apple in Northern California the same day.

As Wired explains in its story on the second suit, Freeman v Apple, "The tracking is possible because Apple assigns a UDID (Unique Device Identifier) to each iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and apps can access that number. Advertising companies figured out this number -- akin to a social security number for a phone -- can be used for tracking, much like a cookie in a browser." Though the data cannot be cleared or blocked like a cookie can be.

A story in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month made quite a stir, and, in fact, both cases cite the research from that report extensively.

Forbes says to expect a flurry of class action activity here, and warns Google that Android will probably be next. However, it reminds us that "Buried in the Commerce Department's recent report on online privacy was a consideration that class action lawsuits over tracking be banned," so get 'em in while you can fellas.

Apple has been a target in suits thus far because it, unlike Google, approves the apps in its store, possibly opening it to additional liability. Freeman v Apple cites this process saying that Apple has created a "community of interest" with the app publishers due to the control it exercises over them.




Read the whole story at Bloomberg Businessweek et al »

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