NEWS15 June 2012

Judge says Apple app tracking claims can proceed

Legal North America

US— A federal judge has dismissed claims that Apple and several app analytics firms and mobile ad networks violated iPhone users’ privacy rights in gathering and sharing personal information. However Apple will still face claims under California consumer protection laws that it let apps secretly track user activity.

In dismissing claims against analytics firms Flurry and Medialets, ad networks AdMarvel and AdMob, and Google, owner of ad network DoubleClick and the Google Analytics service, as well as some of the claims against Apple, federal judge Lucy Koh said the supposed invasion of privacy was not an “egregious breach of social norms” and might even be deemed “routine commercial behaviour”.

Apple had argued that user agreements shielded it from liability but Koh said there was “some ambiguity” as to whether all the information that was collected had been permitted.

The lawsuit dates back to 2011 after the publication of a research paper by Bucknell University’s Eric Smith, who observed exchanges between apps and third-party servers of the unique identifers assigned to each Apple device. The original complaint was dismissed in September but was amended and re-filed.