Apple Sued Over App Privacy Breaches

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Earlier, we wrote that some apps in the iOS App Store were relaying information, including address, age, gender and unique device identifiers to third parties without a user’s knowledge. Now, Bloomberg says Apple and several app makers are being sued for the perceived breaches.

The suit was filed on Dec. 23 in federal court in San Jose, Calif. and seeks class action status, though it was initially filed on behalf of Jonathan Lalo. The complaint accuses Apple and applications like Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel and Dictionary.com of transmitting personal information to advertising networks for tracking purposes. In the suit, Apple is accused of violating its own policy of not allowing apps to transmit data without customer consent.

If class action status is granted, there could potentially be a massive defendant pool, since anyone who downloaded an app on either iPhone, iPad or iPod touch between Dec. 1, 2008 and last week.

The suit stems from a Wall Street Journal investigation that found that of 101 apps tested, 56 transmitted some personal data to third-party advertising agencies, and that many did so without notifying the user that any information was being shared. The WSJ report also found Android apps were just as likely to share data, but Android users know that you can see exactly what kind of data your apps have access to in the applications management setting. Apple doesn’t offer a similar breakdown.

Apple couldn’t be reached for comment as of this writing. What do you think? Overreaction, or a fair response to somewhat shady information sharing practices?

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