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Court Dismisses Apps Privacy Suit

A class action suit against Apple and some mobile device application developers for violating the privacy rights of users was dismissed by a federal court because the users did not show how they were harmed.

The users claimed that Apple and the developers allow apps that run on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch to collect and make use of personal information for commercial purposes without user consent or knowledge.  The users alleged that Apple’s design of the iDevices allow apps, without the consent of the users, to access, use, and track address book, cell phone numbers, file systems geolocation, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), keyboard cache, photographs, Sim card serial number, and unique device identifier (UDID).  The users contended Apple’s App Store click-through agreement fails to alert consumers that the iDevices and the apps allow users to be tracked and have their personal information accessed.

The court dismissed the complaint because it lacked sufficient facts to support the allegations and failed to show how the users suffered an injury in fact.

“The court does not take lightly Plaintiffs’ allegations of privacy violations.  However, for purposes of the standing analysis under Article III, Plaintiffs’ current allegations are clearly insufficient,” the opinion states.  “Despite a lengthy Consolidated Complaint, Plaintiffs do not allege injury in fact to themselves.”

“Plaintiffs do not identify what iDevices they used, do not identify which Defendant (if any) accessed or tracked their personal information, do not identify which apps they downloaded that access/track their personal information, and do not identify what harm (if any) resulted from access or tracking of their personal information,” the court wrote.  “Plaintiffs have not identified a concrete harm from the alleged collection and tracking of their personal information sufficient to create an injury in fact.”

The court gave the users an opportunity to file an amended complaint.  “Plaintiffs are on notice, however, that any amended complaint must provide specific allegations with respect to the causal connection between the exact harm alleged (whatever it is) and each Defendant’s conduct or role in that harm.”

In Re iPhone Application Litigation, U.S. Dist. Court, N.D. Calif., San Jose Division No. 11 MD-02250, issued September 20, 2011.