Apple Apps Hit With Privacy Lawsuits

Twas' not a very merry night before Christmas for Apple Inc., the maker of this holiday's hottest gifts, the iPhone and the iPad. Just as sales were soaring, the company was hit with two lawsuits accusing it of violating federal computer fraud and privacy laws.

Twas’ not a very merry night before Christmas for Apple Inc., the maker of this holiday’s hottest gifts, the iPhone and the iPad. Just as sales were soaring, the company was hit with two lawsuits accusing it of violating federal computer fraud and privacy laws.

Apple Inc. was first sued by a California man, Jonathan Lalo, over claims that Apple allowed applications on its iPhone and iPad devices to transmit users’ personal information to advertising networks without customers’ consent – a violation of federal privacy law.

The class action lawsuit, filed on December 23 in a federal court in California, targets several apps including the popular music streaming app Pandora along with Paper Toss, Dictionary.com, the Weather Channel, Talking Tom Cat, Toss It, and Text4Plus.

“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views,” alleges the suit, first reported by Bloomberg.

Also filed on December 23rd against Apple was a second case, Freeman v. Apple, first reported by Wired, also charging the company with allowing app makers to pass identifying and location information about an app user to advertisers without the user’s permission.

Among the apps named in that suit include Toss It, Text4Plus, The Weather Channel, Talking Tom Cat, and Pimple Popper Lite.

Both lawsuits follow a recent Wall Street Journal article detailing how apps on iPhones and Android phones send personal information, and how that information is sometimes passed along to advertisers.

In regards to the Apple devices, the tracking is possible because Apple assigns a UDID to each iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, which apps can then access and share with advertisers.

Apple and Google have previously responded that users have to give apps permission to access their information. However, as we reported earlier, researchers at Duke found that Android apps do share information without permission.