Apple Must Face Lawsuit Over IPhone Data Collection Claims

Apple Inc. must face a lawsuit over claims it collected data from customers’ iPhones while they used applications approved by the company, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, today dismissed some of the claims in the case while allowing others to proceed to pretrial fact-finding.

“I’m going to lift any stay of discovery, and discovery is going forward,” Koh told lawyers representing Apple and customers who filed the complaint.

Apple, through applications on iPhones, collected data on customers’ geographical locations even after users said they didn’t want to share the information, Scott Kamber, a lawyer representing customers, said in court today.

“I don’t want any obstruction here,” Koh said, threatening Apple with sanctions if she learns of any “game play” during the exchange of information before trial. The judge told Apple she wanted the company to start turning over relevant documents to plaintiffs’ lawyers by May 17.

‘Concrete Injury’

Apple sought to dismiss the case based on arguments in a court filing that the customers failed to identify a “single, concrete injury inflicted on any one of the plaintiffs here, much less one that is traceable to defendant Apple Inc.”

In its online privacy statement, Apple says it collects “non-personal information,” meaning data that isn’t directly associated with individuals. The company may collect information such as zip codes, area codes, and the location where an Apple product is used “so that we can better understand customer behavior and improve our products, services, and advertising,” according to the statement.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment on today’s ruling.

“It’s been a long wait and plaintiffs are pleased to be getting their opportunity to have their day in court,” Kamber said in a phone interview after today’s hearing.

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).

(Updates with Apple arguments in sixth paragraph.)
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