Feeds

Smartphone users sue Apple, Facebook over mobile app privacy

18 social media firms slapped with lawsuit

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Apple, Foursquare and 13 other prominent social media firms have been hit with a lawsuit accusing them of supplying mobile applications that invade users' privacy.

The class-action lawsuit was filed by 13 private individuals in Austin, Texas – where geek tech fest SXSW has just shut up shop. The suit accuses 18 companies of harvesting the address books of millions of smartphone users without their knowledge or informed consent.

"The defendants - several of the world's largest and most influential technology and social networking companies – have unfortunately made, distributed and sold mobile software applications that, once installed on a wireless mobile device, surreptitiously harvest, upload and illegally steal the owner's address book data without the owner's knowledge or consent," the lawsuit alleges, PC World reports.

The people behind the lawsuit are seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting such data collection and the destruction of data previously gathered. Those behind the lawsuit describe themselves as users of Apple's iPhone as well as Android-based smartphones.

The lawsuit comes against the backdrop of growing concerns about the handling of sensitive information on mobile phones. At the beginning of February it was discovered that social media iPhone apps from Path and Hipster were uploading user address book information without seeking the consent of smartphone users. Path apologised and promised to mend its ways. Days later, Twitter came under fire for failing to explain that its "Find Friends" service accessed users' smartphone address books.

Democrat Senator Charles Schumer was prompted to write to consumer watchdogs at the FTC calling for action after the location-finding services on smartphones were also granted permission to siphon off users' photos on both iPhones and Android devices.

Smartphone security boffin Graham Lee recently told The Reg that the app development industry might not be able to retain existing business models – thus forcing up prices – should a crackdown take place on the practice of info-slurping in exchange for targeted ad bucks. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
USA to insist on pre-flight mobe power probe
Prove it works or it can't come aboard flights to USA
Judge says there's no such thing as a 'Patent Troll'
Apple banned from calling litigant a 'Bounty hunter', 'corporate shell' or 'Troll'
Euro banks warned off Bitcoin as Canada regulates it
Regulation desirable but way too hard
ISPs haul GCHQ into COURT over dragnet interwebs snooping
'Exploitation of network infrastructure is unlawful,' says co-claimant
Report: UK.gov wants to legislate on comms data BEFORE next election
Ministerial alarm sets in over EU court's data retention ruling
Trick-cyclists defend Facebook emoto-furtling experiment
'All REAL men ignore consent and privacy'
NSA dragnet mostly slurped innocents' traffic
Latest Snowden leak suggests indiscriminate retention
New NSA boss plays down impact of Snowden leaks
You have not heard me say 'OMG, the sky is falling'
Standby consumes MORE POWER THAN CANADA: IEA
Internet of Things will only make it worse
prev story

Whitepapers

How modern custom applications can spur business growth.
In this whitepaper learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem
Only the Power of One delivers leading infrastructure convergence, availability and scalability with federation, and agility through data center automation.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization
Virtualization continues to be one of the most effective ways to consolidate, reduce cost, and make data centers more efficient.
Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps
In this whitepaper learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.