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  • Apple, App Makers Sued Over Privacy Concerns


    We reported a couple weeks ago about an investigation showing that apps transmit personal data to advertisers despite Apple's rules against doing so. Now Apple has been hit with a lawsuit that accuses them, along with the developers of some popular apps, of revealing users' information without their consent. If the suit is granted class action status, millions of people could receive money from the companies.

    The Wall Street Journal tested 101 apps and found that 56 transmitted personal data to third-party advertising companies, most without notifying the user first. As a result, Jonathan Lalo sued Apple and app makers including Pandora, the Weather Channel and Dictionary.com. In the suit, Lalo claims that the fact that the iPhone's UDID can't be blocked allows users to be tracked and profiled by advertisers. "Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks," Lalo alleges in the lawsuit, "including users' location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views."

    Apple has not commented on the lawsuit, but has previously asserted that App Store rules prohibit using the UDID to uniquely identify users. Lalo is seeking class action status for the lawsuit, which would mean that anyone who downloaded an app on the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch between Dec. 1, 2008 and last week would be a party.

    Source: BusinessWeek
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple, App Makers Sued Over Privacy Concerns started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. sobeniceguy2's Avatar
      sobeniceguy2 -
      I've blocked majortity of ads using my host file. Now if apps are violating terms of the agreement the surely legal action needs to take place. What people don't realize that age, gender income etc. is all on "public" record anyway so what is the big deal? I'll let the courts sort it out.
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      Quote Originally Posted by dthiss View Post
      That is so short sighted. It's not exactly what they are transmitting, but they are doing it without our knowledge or consent. That anonymous data could be used for nefarious acts. I for one do not want any info sent without my consent.
      Like I said in a different thread... using anonymous info to show me electronics adds instead of ads for tampons lol. What "nefarious acts" can people do with anonymous data?
    1. Carvensno's Avatar
      Carvensno -
      Well i had the Justin TV app on my phone and had done a update and about 8 hours later on my home-screen popups a iAd banner at the top and notice the navigation arrow never went off. Even went into multitasking and was shutting every app down and the arrow was still on so i went thru my app to see what was updated last and it was Justin TV (JTV) deleted the app and the arrow disappeared right away and never got anymore iAd banners running on the top of my home-screen. I reported it to Itunes and they did nothing saying i needed to talk to the app developer.

      I cant believe they had let a app thru and be put on the app store for download that could be considered a form of hijacking. So you can use the app but they get to use iAd's banners when ever the hell they want anywhere on your phone???

      The more i hear about this stuff and peoples ego's and posting exploits ruining it for us, almost makes me go and just get a droid phone
    1. Poseidon79's Avatar
      Poseidon79 -
      The same apps for the Droid are going to transmit the same data as iOS. Devs code the same app for ALL platforms and generate revenue from ads. Changing phones is not going to magically change the fact that this is an ongoing issue with Android, iOS, or any other mobile platform.
    1. lkailburn's Avatar
      lkailburn -
      Collecting and sending user info without consent is ********. Anyone who doesn't see the harm in that is naive and apparenty doesn't care about their own personal rights. Stand up for your privacy or watch it all dwindle away.
      /opinion

      -Luke
    1. Nielsenius's Avatar
      Nielsenius -
      This is an issue that will only expand over the next few years. Advertisers are looking more and more to specialized ads. Unless a landmark case is made at the Supreme Court level, information will continue to collected from electronics users, like us. Soon enough personalized ads will be all around us. You already see them on most websites thanks to Google. I say deal with it.

      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      Like I said in a different thread... using anonymous info to show me electronics adds instead of ads for tampons lol. What "nefarious acts" can people do with anonymous data?
      I totally agree. I would rather give up a small portion of my privacy so that the ads I see are relevant to my life. Personal info is a no no, though.
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Oh noez we are being tracked on what we do?! Next thing you know we will have tracking cookies during our web browsing of the internets that they don't inform us of.


      Oh wait that already happens.
    1. CynicalDriver's Avatar
      CynicalDriver -
      You can disable cookies from being accepted on your computer.
      You can delete said cookies as well, thereby eliminating the tracked information, and resetting the tailored ads you see to something like tampons, instead of electronics, it will no longer know your sex.

      This cannot be done with a UDID, and that file will always be there, so if you "accidentally" download another app that uses it for pushing ads, you will perpetuate the problem from right where you left off... Until you upgrade/change your device.

      That said...

      I don't really see the big issue in this. Yes, I understand that we all get nervous letting anyone be able to track our habits, but it happens everywhere anyway. You cannot avoid it, and you especially contribute the moment you buy yourself a phone, internet connection, utility service, or anything else provided by a "service company." They all have files, and they all have the same ability to share it as an app developer.

      Until utilities and service providers start selling my information, I'll just let it slide, because honestly only they have the kind of information that can actually harm me, and only they have my undivided attention via "commitment contracts" and monopolies on markets. Electric companies often have zero competition because of government contracts, so they have the power to do this with literally zero backlash in the short-term... Accept it, or live without gas, power, cell service, internet, etc...

      When that happens, I will be the first one to wave the lawsuit flag, but I don't see a UDID and my a/s/l being a real problem out there.
    1. krosis's Avatar
      krosis -
      I think this is not so much about what a specific app does, and more about the fact that apple sells the app store as a safe place to buy apps that are pre-screened to exclude certain negative traits. That's part of the cost of the apple ecosystem. Apple's not doing their job, and that's why someone thinks they're able to make a case.

      I'd be more concerned about the fact that if apple can't properly vet apps that send UDIDs, do you trust them to find the ones that send your location? Or that go through your address book and forward your contacts? Or your MP3 / video collection?

      Keep in mind many apps send this data out of your country, so assumptions of what may be legally done with it are dangerous to make.

      Installing Firewall iP is a great first step, but it has problems of it's own, and for apps that need network access, it doesn't let you block everything.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      wasn't this already disclosed by apple when they released iAd's. that demographical and non personal user data would be collected for appropriate user related advertisements?
    1. aopwarrior's Avatar
      aopwarrior -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carvensno View Post
      Well i had the Justin TV app on my phone and had done a update and about 8 hours later on my home-screen popups a iAd banner at the top and notice the navigation arrow never went off. Even went into multitasking and was shutting every app down and the arrow was still on so i went thru my app to see what was updated last and it was Justin TV (JTV) deleted the app and the arrow disappeared right away and never got anymore iAd banners running on the top of my home-screen. I reported it to Itunes and they did nothing saying i needed to talk to the app developer.

      I cant believe they had let a app thru and be put on the app store for download that could be considered a form of hijacking. So you can use the app but they get to use iAd's banners when ever the hell they want anywhere on your phone???

      The more i hear about this stuff and peoples ego's and posting exploits ruining it for us, almost makes me go and just get a droid phone
      Same exact thing happened, but it wasn't JTV. It was another app i cant remember.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      So some apps slipped through and have gotten harmless non-important info from you..Apple's not perfect, but at least they're trying and going to do something about it, a lot of other companies could care less. Sad that ppl see stuff like this and just want money out of it.
    1. endwaro's Avatar
      endwaro -
      Quote Originally Posted by cynicaldriver View Post
      you can disable cookies from being accepted on your computer.
      You can delete said cookies as well, thereby eliminating the tracked information, and resetting the tailored ads you see to something like tampons, instead of electronics, it will no longer know your sex.

      This cannot be done with a udid, and that file will always be there, so if you "accidentally" download another app that uses it for pushing ads, you will perpetuate the problem from right where you left off... Until you upgrade/change your device.

      That said...

      I don't really see the big issue in this. Yes, i understand that we all get nervous letting anyone be able to track our habits, but it happens everywhere anyway. You cannot avoid it, and you especially contribute the moment you buy yourself a phone, internet connection, utility service, or anything else provided by a "service company." they all have files, and they all have the same ability to share it as an app developer.

      Until utilities and service providers start selling my information, i'll just let it slide, because honestly only they have the kind of information that can actually harm me, and only they have my undivided attention via "commitment contracts" and monopolies on markets. Electric companies often have zero competition because of government contracts, so they have the power to do this with literally zero backlash in the short-term... Accept it, or live without gas, power, cell service, internet, etc...

      When that happens, i will be the first one to wave the lawsuit flag, but i don't see a udid and my a/s/l being a real problem out there.
      amen!!!!!

      Quote Originally Posted by steve-z17 View Post
      So some apps slipped through and have gotten harmless non-important info from you..Apple's not perfect, but at least they're trying and going to do something about it, a lot of other companies could care less. Sad that ppl see stuff like this and just want money out of it.
      Yes the only problem that apple has here is that they let the app go live. Since they say they check the apps all the time. They can get burned. But again there are thousands of apps and no one is perfect. Lets say theres 5,000 apps waiting for approval. It would take ages to check every single one of them. Still if apple loses wich never really happens. Will at least get from nothing to a $1,29 enough to buy a drink at mcdonalds or a song.
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      Quote Originally Posted by rhekt View Post
      wasn't this already disclosed by apple when they released iAd's. that demographical and non personal user data would be collected for appropriate user related advertisements?
      Yes. You had to consent to it with a new iTunes TOS. Or opt out and lose the ability to buy new apps and update the ones you had previoulsly purchased.
    1. zachthecat's Avatar
      zachthecat -
      Quote Originally Posted by zeroskater61 View Post
      So that pretty much includes every single person with an iPod touch,iPhone, and iPad.. Wow how many heads would that be? Now imagine everyone getting back a little piece of the action from this? Oh wow even if it was a dollar worths in iTunes credit that they gave out. Still a lot.
      We will all split the money from the lawsuit.


      Action? Try 1 dollar.
    1. alexevo's Avatar
      alexevo -
      We don't benefit from this because it just means the prices of apps will go up. We may each see a couple bucks tops but the ones who really benefit are the lawyers. Too bad it has to be this way. They really should though be putting privacy agreements in the apps when you download them that you have to agree to before downloading the app.
    1. Rinnycoop121's Avatar
      Rinnycoop121 -
      who cares how much is paid as long as apple loses a lawsuit for once
    1. zYxMa's Avatar
      zYxMa -
      Honestly I really hate ANY kind of ads. There is so many of them everywhere you go, everywhere and now this. Not a big deal, but f*** off and for apple since "all" the apps have to go thru an approval process WTF are they doing? I thought they have policies and procedures whether what apps to approve and what not. They don't give a damn...
    1. Team Infecti0n's Avatar
      Team Infecti0n -
      I'll on the advert's side on this one. At least the info will be used to show you ads on something that relates to your activities. Black Ops ads and electronic ads and such. It'll get those dating ads outta here. So when we win, I actually laughed at a couple of your comments like this, I'll see a check for $1.50 in the mail and after interests and taxes and such I can't wait to cash out $0.01 in the bank... Ironic because it's not even cash in the first place now is it? Lol...
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      It's transmitting anonymous demographic data. People are making such a huge deal out of nothing. Unless they're giving out my phone number, address, email, credit card... then I don't care.
      I know I dot really care unless it's the things you listed. Adverting needs things like this to expand. That's why some stores ask for zip codes when you purchase items. Some people are just looking for something to sue someone else over