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Judge Tosses $5B Class Action Over iTunes and Apple Music Data Privacy

Judge Tosses $5B Class Action Over iTunes and Apple Music Data Privacy

Apple on Monday scored a legal win as a judge dismissed a class action complaint that claimed the company unjustly profits from the collection and sale of iTunes and Apple Music user data.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup dismissed the case with prejudice in the Northern Court of California after plaintiffs failed to file an amended complaint on the matter by November 14. Apple had won a motion back on October 25 to dismiss the case when Alsup ruled the facts and supporting documents presented by the plaintiffs were inadequate.

The case, filed in May, involves three named complainants that alleged Apple broke both Michigan and Rhode Island law by selling, renting, transmitting, or disclosing a customer’s information without consent. The trio, plaintiffs Leigh Wheaton, Jill Paul and Trevor Paul claimed Apple sold and exposed their personal listening information to third parties, such as app developers and data brokers.

Apple allegedly entered into an app development agreement with SIS d.o.o., an app developer based in Trzin, Slovenia, in 2008, according to the settlement agreement between OFAC and Apple.

In February 2015, OFAC blacklisted SIS and its majority owner Savo Stjepanovic for allegedly being part of an international steroid trafficking network. As a result of the designations, any property that SIS or Mr. Stjepanovic had an interest in were blocked, and U.S. individuals and entities were prohibited from dealing with them. In May 2017, OFAC removed Mr. Stjepanovic and SIS from its blacklist.

During the time SIS was blacklisted, Apple made 47 payments related to the company’s blocked apps, including making payments directly to SIS, OFAC said. Apple also collected about $1.2 million from customers that downloaded SIS’s apps.

OFAC said the span of time over which the alleged violations happened and the multiple points of failure within Apple’s sanctions compliance program showed “reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements,” according to the agreement.

The plaintiffs claim Apple allowed app developers access to library and listening metadata, user tokens that could be associated with personal information, and gifted songs.

Plaintiffs claim Apple’s alleged privacy violations caused them to overpay, lose the value of their personal listening information, receive unwarranted junk mail and telephone solicitation calls, and a risk of identity theft.

Alsup granted Apple’s motion to dismiss referring to two key exhibits, one of which appears to show a data broker’s listing containing information pertaining to millions of iTunes and Pandora customers. Alsup disagreed with the Plaintiffs claim that a mail icon presented in the document included contact information for iTunes customers. Alsup disagreed.

“Yet, the mail icon does not explicitly disclose any names, addresses, or personally identifying information of customers. It is merely a picture of an envelope,” Alsup wrote in October. “The complaint fails to explain anything about clicking on the icon. Without more information, which was surely available to counsel, this order will not speculate that the mail icon explicitly would lead to Apple customers’ names and addresses.”

The plaintiffs’ second exhibit, another alleged listing from a third-party data broker, failed to include the “data broker name, Apple, or even iTunes.”

Alsup found plaintiffs provided no evidence to substantially support their claims that Apple violated user rights by allowing developers access to metadata, tokens and gifted songs.

Alsup’s ruling dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs are barred from bringing amended claims against Apple in a future action, meaning the cse is dead in the water.

(Via AppleInsider)

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