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Apple Sued Over Applications Giving Information to Advertisers

Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone and iPad, was accused in a lawsuit of allowing applications for those devices to transmit users’ personal information to advertising networks without customers’ consent.

The complaint, which seeks class action, or group, status, was filed on Dec. 23 in federal court in San Jose, California. The suit claims Cupertino, California-based Apple’s iPhones and iPads are encoded with identifying devices that allow advertising networks to track what applications users download, how frequently they’re used and for how long.

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

The suit, filed on behalf of Jonathan Lalo of Los Angeles County, identifies applications such as Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel and Dictionary.com, and names them as defendants along with Apple. Lalo is represented by Scott A. Kamber and Avi Kreitenberg of KamberLaw LLC in New York.

Apple iPhones and iPads are set with a Unique Device Identifier, or UDID, which can’t be blocked by users, according to the complaint. Apple claims it reviews all applications on its App Store and doesn’t allow them to transmit user data without customer permission, according to the complaint.

A customer tests an iPad at the new Apple Inc. store in Covent Garden, London, U.K. Photographer Rupert Hartley/Bloomberg Close

A customer tests an iPad at the new Apple Inc. store in Covent Garden, London, U.K.... Read More

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A customer tests an iPad at the new Apple Inc. store in Covent Garden, London, U.K. Photographer Rupert Hartley/Bloomberg

The lawsuit, claiming the transmission of personal information is a violation of federal computer fraud and privacy laws, seeks class-action status for Apple customers who downloaded an application on their iPhone or iPad between Dec. 1, 2008, and last week.

Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn’t immediately return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.

The case is Lalo v. Apple, 10-5878, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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