Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Apple in Class Action Lawsuit

A federal judge last week ruled that a class action cannot hold Apple responsible for apps on the iPhone and iPad that sold their users' data to advertisers. Jonathan Lalo was the lead plaintiff on a class action filed in 2010 claiming Apple had approved apps for the iPhones and iPads that intercepted personal information and tracked users' habits without authorization.

"Apple claims to review each application before offering it to its users, purports to have implemented app privacy standards, and claims to have created 'strong privacy protections' for its customers," the complaint stated.

Lalo's attorney also said that Apple claimed that "it does not allow apps to transmit data about a user without consent."

The class action said that apps such as Dictionary.com, Pandora, the Weather Channel and Backflip collected and passed along confidential data, including users' geographic location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political affiliations, to third-party ad networks.

Eighteen other class actions were consolidated with Lalo's case in multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of California. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple summary judgment on the case last Monday, finding that users could not show that they relied on Apple's alleged misrepresentations and were harmed by them.

"Critically, none of the plaintiffs presents evidence that he or she even saw, let alone read and relied upon, the alleged misrepresentations contained in the Apple Privacy Policies, SLAs [Software License Agreements], or App Store Terms and Conditions, either prior to purchasing his or her iPhone, or at any time thereafter," Koh wrote.

"Plaintiffs each allude to a vague 'understanding' regarding Apple's privacy policies without providing any evidence whatsoever concerning the basis for this understanding," the 30-page judgment states. "But a vague 'understanding' about Apple's privacy policies is not enough. To survive summary judgment, plaintiffs are required to set forth 'specific facts' in support of standing."

You can read the full ruling here.

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