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Apple Wins Bid to Halt Privacy Suit Over Data Collection

Apple Logo
Books surround an illuminated Apple Inc. logo on a MacBook Pro laptop computer. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Apple Inc. won its bid to dismiss a privacy lawsuit alleging the company improperly collected and shared customers’ personal information.

U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh in San Jose, California, found that the consumers who sued didn’t adequately show how they were injured by relying on Cupertino, California-based Apple’s privacy policies for applications on smartphones and tablets.

Customers alleged in their complaint that Apple collected information on their locations through iPhones and iPads, even after the devices’ geo-location feature was turned off, in violation of the company’s privacy policy. They also claimed Apple lured them into spending more money for their iPhones than they would have if they knew what types of data Apple was collecting, according to Koh.

To prevail, the plaintiffs had to show specifically how they “actually relied on Apple’s misrepresentations and suffered economic injury as a result,” the judge said.

They “failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact concerning actual reliance,” Koh wrote in a ruling issued Nov. 25. She said that while the plaintiffs provided evidence that supported their claims, they also made contradictory statements in depositions that undermined their case.

Google Case

The ruling in the Apple case follows last month’s dismissal by a federal judge in Delaware of a lawsuit alleging that Google Inc. violated computer users’ rights by slipping electronic “cookies” into their Web browsers to facilitate placement of advertising. This month, Google reached a $17 million settlement with 37 U.S. states over its circumvention of privacy settings for some Internet users.

Koh is also presiding over privacy cases filed against Google, Yahoo! Inc. and LinkedIn Corp.

“While we are disappointed in the decision and working with our clients to evaluate their options, it is worth noting that Judge Koh denied Apple’s motion in so far as Apple claimed there was no injury,” Scott Kamber, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an e-mail. “The court’s decision did not address the merits of the underlying claims but was limited to the timing of plaintiffs’ review of Apple’s privacy policy.”

The case is In re Apple Inc. iPhone/iPad Application Consumer Privacy Litigation, 11-md-02250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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