Apple is facing a third class action privacy lawsuit, after the company was found to be collecting analytics data from iPhone users even after they refused permission.
Apple insists that all developers ask permission to collect analytics data, but security researcher Tommy Mysk discovered last year that the company wasn’t playing by its own rules…
He found that Apple collected data from your iPhone with or without your consent.
Every time you set up a new iPhone, you are asked whether or not you consent to Apple collecting analytics data. If you decline consent, you’d of course expect no analytics data to be sent to Apple.
However, Mysk found that Apple apps were collecting and sending this data regardless of this setting. Indeed, he could see no difference at all in the data sent whether the user had chosen to grant or decline permission.
The sheer volume of data collected was on par with that used by companies like Meta as a workaround to App Tracking Transparency (a practice known as device fingerprinting, which is banned by Apple).
Worse, the data collected by Apple included potentially sensitive information.
Gizmodo points out that even this data can be sensitive – for example, searching for apps related to LGBTQIA+ issues, or abortion.
Class action privacy lawsuits
A class action lawsuit was quickly filed in California, arguing that Apple’s privacy guarantees are “completely illusory.”
This was followed by a second in Pennsylvania, accusing Apple of violating “state wiretapping, privacy, and consumer fraud laws.”
Gizmodo reports that a third lawsuit has now been filed in New York state.
Paul Whalen, the attorney suing Apple in the New York suit, told Gizmodo he’s worked on a number of high-profile data breach cases over the last 20 years, matters that often involve unintentional errors. This is not one of those cases, he said.
“Those data breaches happened in large part because someone made a mistake that shouldn’t have occurred,” Whalen said. “In this case, with Apple, there doesn’t appear to be a mistake. Apple knowingly promised one thing and did exactly the opposite. That is what makes this case feel so very different.”
Apple has so far declined to respond to requests for comment on the issue. During a recent trip to Vegas, I didn’t see any re-runs of its “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone” giant billboard ads.
Earlier this month, the iPhone maker was fined in France for illegal data collection.
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