Apple faces a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges the tech giant misleads consumers into believing that their personal data is not being tracked.
The 18-page lawsuit calls Apple’s alleged data tracking a “story of corporate greed.” The case claims that although the company explicitly promises to give consumers the ultimate say about their privacy, independent research has shown that Apple nevertheless tracks users’ data through their personal iPhones, iPads, and Apple computers connected to the App Store.
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As part of its privacy campaign and to gain an edge in the market, Apple has criticized its competitors and “overtly advertised [that] it does not need to track users to harvest data and make money from it,” the suit says. The suit contends that Apple has abused its customer loyalty and reputation as a trusted brand, misleading consumers by “consistently doubl[ing] down on its privacy message.”
However, the complaint suggests that the company’s “Privacy. That’s Apple.” messaging is a ploy given that switching off device analytics features has “no impact” on the information Apple collects, the filing relays.
More specifically, although users can turn off their iPhone Analytics settings and ostensibly “disable the sharing of Device Analytics,” researchers determined that the privacy settings “had no obvious effect” on data-tracking—that is, Apple continued to collect user data whether or not iPhone Analytics was disabled, the filing says.
Per the lawsuit, turning off device analytics in the App store is similarly ineffective as it purportedly continues to capture user activity in real-time and record personal details like ID numbers, the device being used, browser information, screen resolution, keyboard languages, and more.
As of the April 2021 launch of Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, the company claimed that it was “making targeted advertising much more difficult,” the case explains. The update reportedly made opting out of data-tracking simple—while before the process was “cumbersome,” after the update, users were presented with a pop-up when an app sought to track their activity, and given the choice to allow or deny it, the complaint relays.
However, no such pop-up appears when Apple itself tracks the activity of its own consumers, who do not realize that the company actually implemented the new data-tracking opt-out feature “to protect its own ad revenue at the expense of other competitors such as Facebook,” the filing alleges.
“Apple’s business strategy is apparent: cut out the competition so it can keep the advertising revenue for itself,” the lawsuit charges.
The plaintiff, a New York resident and owner of an iPhone 12 Pro Max, MacBook Air, Apple TV, and iPad Pro, believed like other consumers that Apple would comply with his devices’ privacy settings, the suit says. Nevertheless, the company allegedly continued to track the man’s personal data regardless of the features being disabled.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the United States who purchased an Apple device for personal use and not for resale who had their personal information tracked after disabling the setting that allows Apple to track data.
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