App privacy sparks class action lawsuit

A lawsuit filed December 23 in San Jose, California on behalf of Los Angeles county’s Jonathan Lalo alleges that Apple and select co-defendants have violated privacy and federal computer fraud statutes. Specifically, Lalo and his attorneys—Scott A. Kamber and Avi Kreitenberg of KamberLaw LLC in New York—claim that personal information is being transmitted to advertisers via iPhone and iPads’ Unique Device Identifier (UDID). Makers of such apps as Pandora Radio, Paper Toss, The Weather Channel, and Dictionary.com are also named in the suit, which aspires to class-action status.

Apple has stated that it doesn’t allow apps to transmit user data without a user’s permission. According to a Bloomberg report, however, the lawsuit suggests that advertising networks use this data to learn which apps users download as well as how long they’re used. Additionally, it goes on to say that some applications transmit such data as a user’s location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and political views.

The lawsuit was filed after a recent Wall Street Journal article claimed that out of 101 popular smartphone apps tested by the publication, 56 transmitted the phone’s UDID without the consent of the phone’s owner.

Apple rarely comments on legal issues such as these. The case is Lalo v. Apple, 10-5878, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose)

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