Apple fined $2,800 for location tracking

Company's South Korea unit was fined 3 million South Korean won following the company's location-tracking troubles earlier this year.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Apple has been slapped on the wrist by the Korea Communications Commission over the company's inadvertent collection of location data.

The commission, which is South Korea's equivalent to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, fined Apple 3 million Korean won, or about $2,829, following the revelation earlier this year that Apple's iOS-based devices collected location information on users without their specific authorization.

The fine could have been much stiffer. According to Reuters, which first reported on the story, the commission could have suspended Apple's operations in Korea or imposed a fine of up to 10 million won for the data collection.

Apple's troubles started in April when researchers discovered that the iPhone and iPad were tracking and storing user movements. When that data was accessed, the researchers found latitude and longitude data, as well as timestamps. Furthermore, the researchers said that the information was "unencrypted and unprotected, and it's on any machine you've synched with your iOS device."

After that information was made public, Apple was hit by a lawsuit in Florida by plaintiffs, Vikram Ajjampur and William Devito, who sought punitive damages and an injunction.

"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 argued. "Apple collects the location information covertly, surreptitiously and in violations of law."

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For its part, Apple responded to the public outcry, saying that the information was inadvertently logged due to "bugs" in the software. In May, Apple released iOS 4.3.3 to patch the issue.

But that didn't stop the company from facing fallout. Last month, Apple lost a lawsuit against a Korean man who took the company to court over the tracking issue. Apple was ordered by a South Korean District Court judge to pay 1 million won ($945).

Looking ahead, Apple could face more trouble in Korea. Earlier this week, the Korea Herald reported that law firm Miraelaw will be launching a lawsuit against Apple over the location-tracking issue, saying that it violated the country's privacy laws.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.