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Apple faces new privacy lawsuit

The second intended class action lawsuit was filed in the US against Apple, accusing the tech giant of violating consumer information privacy laws.

The case was filed in Pennsylvania Court last Friday by Plaintiff Joaquin Serrano and accuses Apple of “flagrant” and “systematic” violations of privacy as laid out in the state’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act and consumer protection fraud laws.

The court documents claim Apple collects sensitive personal information from a user’s iPhone or iPad, secretly tracking the device and app activity, even after the user has chosen explicitly to opt-out on their device.

“Quite simply, Apple unlawfully records and uses consumers’ personal information and activity on its consumer mobile devices and applications (“apps”), even after consumers explicitly indicate through Apple’s mobile device settings that they do not want their data and information shared. This activity amounts to an enormous wealth of data that Apple collects and uses for its financial gain.”

Joaquin Serrano vs APPLE INC., Case No. 23-cv-70, US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

The suit also points out the discrepancy between multiple privacy statements and consumer promises Apple publicly posts on their website and platforms compared to its actual practices. For example,

“Apple Privacy Policy” states: At Apple, we respect your ability to know, access, correct, transfer, restrict the processing of, and delete your personal data.”

“The Apple App Store “User Privacy and Data Use” page similarly declares: Apps on the App Store are held to a high standard for privacy, security, and content because nothing is more important than maintaining users’ trust.”

“In addition, Apple makes an outright promise in its mobile devices’ settings: Apple states that it will “disable [the sharing of] Device Analytics altogether.”

Class Action Complaint against APPLE INC.

The lawsuit even goes so far as to ironically provide descriptions of Apple’s most recent global ad campaign, including photos of 40-foot high billboards featuring slogans such as, “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” and “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.”

The documents further state that all consumers should have a “reasonable expectation of privacy on their mobile devices” and that personal information “will not be shared without affirmative consent.”

This is the second lawsuit of its kind filed against Apple since two independent researchers revealed the privacy and tracking concerns to tech media outlet Gizmodo in November 2022. The first class action suit was filed in California after the story broke.

Apple had promised regulators to clean up its questionable information-sharing practices after a similar privacy-related class action suit was brought against the company in 2010. That California lawsuit accused Apple of allowing advertisers to track the location information of unsuspecting mobile device users who had downloaded free Apps from the Apple store.

A state judge dismissed the entire case in 2013, although Apple did pay a roughly $1M fine to a plaintiff in South Korea for similar privacy violation charges that same year.

So far, there has been no official comment from Apple on either of the recent lawsuits.

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