Apple fails to fend off mobile tracking lawsuit
Apple Inc must defend against a lawsuit accusing it of letting advertisers secretly track the activity of millions of mobile device users, a federal judge ruled, but Google Inc and several other defendants were dismissed from the case.
Owners of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches may pursue claims against Apple under two California consumer protection laws, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, said in a decision late Tuesday. Koh oversees nationwide litigation combining 19 lawsuits.
But the judge threw out claims that Apple violated customers’ privacy rights, and also threw out claims under federal laws addressing computer fraud, wiretaps, and records disclosure.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other defendants dismissed from the case include AdMarval Inc, Admob Inc, Flurry Inc and Medialets Inc.
The lawsuit followed an April 2011 presentation from two computer programmers whose research showed that iPhone users’ movements were being monitored through their devices.
That provoked a firestorm in which regulators demanded changes, which Apple promised to make. Steve Jobs denied in multiple interviews at the time that the company he co-founded ever tracked or would ever track customer movements.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs said Apple designed its devices to let mobile advertising and analytics companies, such as Google and its co-defendants, collect personal data when free apps are downloaded, including from Apple’s website.
They said this was done without permission, and inconsistent with Apple’s proclaiming in writing that it would take steps to safeguard personal information against misuse.