Apple and Developers Sued Over Alleged 'Spying' Apps
Apple and several developers are facing two separate lawsuits filed for allegedly allowing apps on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to gather information on users and allowing third-party advertisers access to personal information. The collection and unauthorized sharing of private user data was the subject of the first lawsuit, Freeman vs. Apple, filed in northern California federal court, which targets such applications as Pandora, Dictionary.com, the Weather Channel, Toss It, Text4Plus, Talking Tom Cat and Pimple Popper Lite.
The second lawsuit, Lalo vs. Apple, filed in Federal court in San Jose, CA, seeks a class-action status for anyone who has downloaded an allegedly offending app between December 2008 and last week. Lalo vs. Apple targets Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel and Dictionary.com. Apple wasn't the only party sued. The developers who made the aforementioned applications were also named in the lawsuits.
Jonathan Lalo, who filed the San Jose suit, alleges that the apps let ad networks track which applications people download, how often they were used and for how long. The suit claims that the ad networks can trace an iPhone or iPad using the unique device identifier (UDID), which is a number assigned to each unit and can't be blocked by users. The suit charges that sending personal data without consent violates federal privacy laws and even computer fraud laws.
News heated up over the leaking of private data after the Wall Street Journal printed a series of articles alleging that mobile apps sent information without the user's consent or awareness. Apple wasn't the only company on the hot seat. The Journal also found that Android applications were transmitting age, gender, location and UDID numbers to third-party ad companies. Also, ironically, the suits were filed just after the FTC came out with a report on computer privacy that cautioned sites and advertisers to keep themselves out of computer users' private lives.
Pandora came in for some special fire from the Journal article, which it found was sending age, gender, and other personal information to the ad networks.
So, if you haven't had enough to worry about with Facebook watching you, now these cases may determine if your cell phone is reporting on you too.