About two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a great – albeit scary – article about a trend affecting a large number of popular apps: the transmission of potentially identifying information back to a network of companies willing to pay to know more about apps users (see here for more details). The article revealed that many popular and apparently harmless apps collect and share sensitive information such as phone numbers, location, the phone owner’s name and the device’s unique ID, without the user’s consent. In less than ten days, an iPhone user filed a new class action lawsuit against Apple. According to Bloomberg, the lawsuit was filed on December 23rd in New York by law firm KamberLaw LLC, on behalf of plaintiff Jonathan Lalo of Los Angeles. According to the filing, the plaintiff is holding Apple responsible for allowing iOS apps to share potentially personally-identifying information about apps users, as “Apple claims it reviews all applications on its App Store and doesn’t allow them to transmit user data without customer permission.” KamberLaw LLC’s filing is seeking to include all iPhone users who have downloaded apps since late 2008.
Pandora – A free but “chatty” appThanks to the use of the device’s unique ID number, ad networks use the information collected from various apps to build the profile of the phone owner, in order to build targeted advertising campaigns. And even though Apple reviews each app before it makes it into the App Store, and requires developers who plan to share potentially identifying information to ask for some kind of permission first, the Wall Street Journal found out that many apps simply do not follow that rule – the basis of the lawsuit. [Photo credit: wsj.com]