Quebec Court Approves Privacy Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple

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A class action lawsuit has been launched in Quebec against Apple Canada and in the USA, citing privacy breaches against iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users who have downloaded a free app, reports Canadian Lawyer Mag (Apple has sold over 600 million iOS devices to date):

In Gad Albilia v. Apple Inc. the court authorized a class action alleging a deliberate breach of privacy by Apple. The class includes all “residents in Canada who have purchased or otherwise acquired an iPhone or iPad and who have downloaded free apps from the App Store” since Dec. 2008 to the present, “or any other group to be determined by the Court.”

Albilia, a computer engineer, claims Apple knowingly allowed third parties to design apps that when downloaded would provide personal information without first telling users and obtaining their consent.

Within the filing, Albilia claimed Apple’s full control over apps and the App Store allowed for ‘clandestine and intrusive use’ of personal information:

Petitioner’s claim is based on Apple having full control over the Apps and Apple ecosystem allowing for the making of clandestine and intrusive use of personally identifiable information while representing to its clients that they will protect their privacy. The geolocation issue relates to the ability for certain limited Apps running on a particular version of an iOS to access the iDevice whereabouts even when geolocation services were turned off.

Christine Carron, a partner with Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, commented the following in regards to this case:

“The class description was just anyone who owned an i-device and had downloaded a free app. That would have caught any number of apps that could have actually obtained proper consent first,” says Carron. “Normally defining a class so broadly would be a bar to certification or at least the judge should have redefined the class, but instead he said the judge on the merits can adjust accordingly.”

Carron believes the broad inclusion of all apps by the judge was not consistent with similar judgments coming out of the court, calling the decision “unfortunate”.

Apple is being represented by McCarthy Tétrault LLP and challenged the inclusion of all the apps in one class but Justice Pierre Nollet did not accept those arguments. The entire judgement document can be seen here, dated June 27, 2013.