A proposed class action alleges Apple records consumers’ app activity even after they have disabled tracking tools in their iPhone or iPad privacy settings.
According to the 20-page suit, Apple makes the “utterly false” promise that consumers can control when the company collects their data as they use Apple-owned apps, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks, by turning off “Allow Apps to Request to Track” and “Share [Device] Analytics” in their device settings. Instead, the filing claims, Apple records, tracks, collects and monetizes users’ browsing histories and activity information, regardless of any privacy safeguards consumers employ.
The case accuses Apple of violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act, which prohibits the unauthorized recoding of confidential communications.
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In truth, Apple’s data privacy guarantees are completely “illusory,” the case alleges.
“Apple’s practices infringe upon consumers’ privacy; intentionally deceive consumers; give Apple and its employees power to learn intimate details about individuals’ lives, interests, and app usage; and make Apple a potential target for ‘one-stop shopping’ by any government, private, or criminal actor who wants to undermine individuals’ privacy, security, or freedom. Through its pervasive and unlawful data tracking and collection business, Apple knows even the most intimate and potentially embarrassing aspects of the user’s app usage—regardless of whether the user accepts Apple’s illusory offer to keep such activities private.”
Per the complaint, researchers at the software company Mysk found that whether analytic controls are switched on or off, Apple’s data collection process remains the same. The suit claims that Apple can identify certain actions users take in one of its apps in particular:
“For example, the App Store harvests information about every action users take while using the app in real time, including what users tapped on, which apps users search for, what ads users see, and how long users looked at a given app and how users found it. The App Store app sends details to Apple about users and their devices as well, including ID numbers, what kind of phone they are using, their screen resolution, their keyboard languages, how they’re connected to the internet—notably, the kind of information commonly used for device fingerprinting.”
The filing asserts that popular web browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge do not collect the above-mentioned data when analytics settings are turned off, as Apple’s alleged tracking scheme is not a standard industry practice.
The case argues that Apple, the largest technology company in the world with a net worth of over $2 trillion, has enjoyed “enormous financial success” as it uses this tracked data to enhance its targeted advertising algorithms.
The lawsuit looks to present anyone who turned off “Allow Apps to Request to Track,” “Share iPhone Analytics,” “Share iPhone & Watch Analytics,” and/or “Share iPad Analytics,” and whose mobile app activity was still tracked by Apple on an iPhone mobile device.
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