Apple faces privacy suits

09:12, December 30, 2010      

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Two separate groups of iPhone and iPad users have sued Apple Inc, alleging that certain software applications had caused their personal information to be passed on to third-party advertisers without consent.

In the class-action lawsuits, filed in a federal court in California, the plaintiffs seek a ban on the passing of user information without consent and monetary compensation, according to case documents.

It is thought both cases may be consolidated into one by the judges presiding over the cases, said Majed Nachawati, a partner at law firm Fears & Nachawati, one of the attornies for the complainants.

Along with Apple, several makers of popular apps, such as Textplus4, Paper Toss, Weather Channel, Talking Tom Cat, and Pumpkin Maker, were listed as co-defendants in the lawsuits filed December 23.

The lawsuits follow a December 18 report in the Wall Street Journal that claimed certain smartphone apps may be sharing personal data "widely and regularly," and that iPhone apps transmitted more data than those on Google's Android operating system.

"We are looking at Google's Android platform, and a lawsuit against it has not been ruled out," Nachawati said.

Concerns about user privacy have emerged with the rapid growth of smartphones and social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Unique Device ID that Apple assigns to its devices has become an attractive feature for third-party advertisers looking for a way to reliably track mobile device users' online activities, one of the lawsuits said.

"None of the defendants adequately informed plaintiffs of their practices, and none of the defendants obtained plaintiffs' consent to do so," one lawsuit alleges.

Last month, Facebook said some of its applications had violated the social networking company's policies against sharing user information, and it vowed to fix the problem.

Earlier this year, microblogging service Twitter agreed to settle a dispute with the US Federal Trade Commission over charges that it had not safeguarded customers' personal information.

Source: Global Times
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