Apple sued over data tracking

Posted by Emma Woollacott

An iPhone user has launched a lawsuit against Apple, accusing it of allowing applications to gather personal information without users' consent.

The complaint, filed in San Jose, California by user Jonathan Lalo, alleges that iPhones and iPads contain a Unique Device Identifier (UDID) which allows advertisers to track what applications users download, how frequently they’re used and for how long.

Indeed, the suit claims, some apps are also selling personal information such as the user's location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views.

Because the UDID is specific to the phone, it can't be changed or blocked by the user. This, says the suit, is a violation of privacy laws and also amounts to computer fraud, as Apple claims it reviews all applications on its App Store and doesn’t allow them to transmit user data without customer permission.

"Defendant Apple, by exercising significant control over App developers and sharing profits with them, has created a 'community of interest' with the other Defendants to render them joint venturers, who are responsible for each other’s torts," reads the suit.

The suit singles out several apps as offenders, including Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel and Dictionary.com, naming them as co-defendants.

Lalo's lawyers, KamberLaw, are seeking class-action status for any Apple customers who downloaded an application on their iPhone or iPad between December 1 2008 and last week. They want a court order to stop the tracking and monetary damages.