Apple Hit with Lawsuits Over Tracking Scandal, Privacy Concerns
Last Updated on March 22, 2023
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
- March 21, 2023 - Investigation Closed, Lawsuits Filed
- Thanks to everyone who reached out to help this investigation. The attorneys no longer need to speak with Apple customers about the issue as at least a dozen lawsuits have been filed. We'll post updates to this page if they become available.
You can read up on a few of the case filings here, here and here.
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At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- Apple customers who turned off the “Share Analytics” and “Allow Apps to Request to Track” settings for their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
- What’s Going On?
- Apple has been hit with multiple proposed class actions alleging the company collects certain user data via its proprietary apps, even when consumers specifically ask not to be tracked. Now, attorneys need to speak with Apple customers to potentially get more cases on file.
- How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
- A class action lawsuit could give consumers a chance to recover money for potential privacy violations and force Apple to change how it collects user data and advertises its privacy protections.
Attorneys would like to speak with Apple users who had the “Share Analytics” and “Allow Apps to Request to Track” settings turned off for their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
More than a dozen proposed class action lawsuits have been filed amid allegations that the tech giant collects data about users via its proprietary apps and monetizes the information – even after those individuals specifically indicated in their privacy settings that they do not wish to be tracked.
Making matters worse, reports have surfaced that Apple is able to link the harvested data to specific users via a unique ID number associated with their iCloud account, further casting doubt on the company’s privacy promises.
Apple Privacy Controversy: What Happened?
Lawsuits began to pour in after two app developers and researchers found that the iPhone’s analytics control and other privacy settings “had no obvious effect” on Apple’s data collection when it came to the company’s first-party apps, which include the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Stocks and Books.
For instance, the November 2022 report claims that the App Store on iOS 14.6 “sends every tap you make in the app to Apple,” regardless of personal settings. Information reportedly collected by Apple not only includes which apps users search for and view, but also device details such as keyboard languages and storage capacity. It was later revealed that the App Store also collects a permanent and unchangeable ID number known as the directory services identifier (or DSID) that is tied to the user’s iCloud account and allows Apple to “personally identify” the user. Mysk, the software company that unearthed Apple’s privacy issues, stated the following on its Twitter account in regard to the DSIDs:
“This means that your detailed behvior [sic] when browsing apps on the App Store is sent to Apple, and contains the ID needed to link the data to you.”
Gizmodo points out that App Store information can be particularly sensitive as some users may be looking at apps related to topics such as mental health, addiction, religion and sexual orientation.
The news outlet requested that the researchers take a look at Apple apps besides the App Store. They found that while the Health and Wallet apps did not transmit analytics data, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books, Stocks and the iTunes Store did, even when certain tracking permissions were turned off. For instance, the Stocks app reported users’ lists of “watched stocks” and the names of the stocks they viewed or searched for, among other information.
Gizmodo writes that “most” of the apps that shared analytics data included “consistent ID numbers” – meaning Apple may have the ability to track consumers “across its services.”
What Are the Class Action Lawsuits Saying About Apple?
Many of the lawsuits take issue with the fact that Apple purports to value users' privacy – yet allegedly allowed its own apps to track users without permission and despite controls it created amid growing privacy concerns involving companies like Facebook and Google.
The lawsuits also claim that Apple:
- Charged a premium for privacy features that did not live up to consumers’ expectations
- Recorded consumers’ “confidential activity” on mobile apps in violation of state laws regarding privacy and wiretapping
- Obtained “enormous financial success” from secretly tracking and collecting users’ information
- Engaged in false and misleading advertising
What Could I Get from a Lawsuit?
If successful, lawsuits could allow consumers to collect compensation from Apple. They could also force the tech company to change its advertising or data practices.
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