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Puerto Rico Federal Case Alleges that Apple, Apps, Invade Privacy

Posted Apr 12, 2011 4:28 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Last week, two women filed a federal complaint against Apple and various apps developers, accusing them of intentionally seeking users’ private smartphone information and sharing it with third-party advertisers.

The suit, which seeks class-action status, was filed April 7 in the District of Puerto Rico. According to Wired's Gadget Lab blog, plaintiffs Natasha Acosta and Dolma Acevedo-Crespo argue that the allegation, involving both iPhone or iPad apps, violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. According to the complaint (PDF), apps that engage in the alleged behavior include Dictionary.com and Pandora, a media player.

According to Gadget Lab, iPhones don’t transmit customers’ names, but information can be identified by a string of unique numbers, known as the “unique device identifier.”

That information, combined with location, age and gender data, could easily show someones real identity, says John Nevares, a San Juan lawyer who represents the plaintiffs.

“When you put those together they’re able to transfer to a third party all your personal information so they can contact you later on and try to sell you something,” Nevares said.

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