Apple sued over location tracking in iOS

Two people are suing Apple for tracking user information on its devices, saying the company should have done a better job at disclosing the fact, as well as offering a way to turn it off.

A lawsuit filed against Apple in Florida last week accuses the company of violating privacy laws, as well as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, by keeping a log of user locations without offering a way to disable the feature.

The suit, which was first reported by Bloomberg, was filed by Vikram Ajjampur and William Devito, both of whom own Apple products. In the suit, the pair, who seek punitive damages and injunctive relief, cite research from Alasdair Allen and Pete Warden about the tracking files found within iOS as the source for Apple's collection techniques.

"Users of Apple's iPhones and iPads, including Plaintiffs, were unaware of Apple's tracking their locations and did not consent to such tracking," the suit claims. "Apple collects the location information covertly, surreptitiously and in violations of law."

The suit faults Apple specifically for not disclosing that the iOS software records "comprehensive" location data in its iTunes Terms of Service, nor offering end users informed consent of the practice.

"If Apple wanted to track the whereabouts of each of its products' users, it should have obtained specific, particularized informed consent such that Apple consumers across America would not have been shocked and alarmed to learn of Apple's practices in recent days," the suit says.

The suit, which is seeking class action status, aims to have Apple completely disable the feature in the "next-released" version of the operating system. Until that happens, the suit claims Apple is in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, state laws comparable to the Federal Trade Commission Act, and "common law rights in uniform ways" of the plaintiffs and class members.

Apple, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit, has not officially commented on the location tracking file since it came to light last week. An alleged e-mail exchange between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a reader of MacRumors surfaced this morning. In it, Jobs purportedly says, "we don't track anyone," and "the info circulating around is false." Apple has not confirmed or commented on the legitimacy of that correspondence.

In addition, Apple and Google were targeted today by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan over location tracking. Madigan seeks a meeting with executives from both companies, as well as answers to her questions about disclosure and purpose of the tracking, and a way to turn the feature off. Madigan's efforts join those of other politicians and government groups who seek to know more about what the companies are doing with the information.

 

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