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Apple Sued Over Privacy Concerns Regarding App Tracking

A Los Angeles county man has filed a lawsuit against Apple, along with several mobile app developers, for allowing apps that transmit private user information to ad networks without user consent.Bloomberg, for one, reported that the complaint, which was filed on Dec. 23 in a U.S. federal court in California, alleged that Cupertino’s iPhones and iPads are encoded with identifiers, specifically the Unique Device Identifier (UDID). The UDID then allows advertising networks to track what apps users are downloading, how frequently they download content and for how long, the report noted.

According to the suit, “Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views.”

The lawsuit not only puts Apple behind the defendants desk – but to name a few others include the creators of: Paper Toss, Pandora (on which the investigation was carried out), The Weather Channel, Dictionary.com and many more.

The class action, or group, lawsuit was filed on behalf of users who have downloaded an app on their iPhone or iPad between Dec. 1, 2008 and Dec. 23, 2010. The Journal went on to report that the claimant is seeking damages, restitution and an injunction that in part requires defendants to provide “notice and choice to consumers regarding defendants’ data collection, profiling, merger and deanonymization activities”.

The lawsuit was filed less than a week after the Journal had raised the issue of personal information being transmitted without users’ consent.

Apple claims that it reviews apps and doesn’t allow them to transmit personal information without permission, but the WSJ’s report shows multiple instances of approved popular apps that are guilty of sharing data. Apple hasn’t yet responded to the WSJ’s investigation, but now that there’s a lawsuit in the mix, I suspect we’ll be hearing something from the Cupertino company soon.

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