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Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services

Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners

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A woman has brought a class-action lawsuit for "invasion of privacy" against Apple over claims surrounding the firm's use of Location Services to track iPhone users and store data on their movements.

The class action suit was filed by a consumer named Chen Ma on behalf of an estimated 100 million affected users.

She wants Apple to give all these iPhone owners some sort of compensatory damages and promise to no longer use Location Services to collect data without explicitly asking fanbois for their permission.

Her complaint focuses on its Location Services software, which comes as standard on all Apple mobes.

In a legal filing, Ma alleged her "daily whereabouts would be tracked, recorded and transmitted to Apple database [sic] to be stored for future reference".

Her case was sparked by a report on CCTV, China's state-sponsored broadcaster, which led her to believe Apple was "surreptitiously acquiring the data of her daily whereabouts down to every minutes [sic] without her knowledge, approval and permission".

The data was collected, Apple admitted in the broadcaster's report, but it insisted the information was not disclosed to any third party.

However, Ma's legal team questioned this claim and alleged that it had made handed over data "including but not limited to US government" who had made "more than 1,000" requests for the information.

She was also concerned that users were offered "no meaningful" way to switch off Location Services without "substantially compromising" key parts of the iPhone's functionality.

Blamed for sapping batteries with its constant pinging, location tracking was introduced in iOS 4. In 2010, Apple wrote to Congress and explained that its location tracking feature wasn't as creepy as it sounded and insisted the data was only stored in an anonymised form which did not identify the user.

However, that didn't satisfy the powers that be and Cupertino was forced to explain itself again in 2011 after the House Energy and Commerce Committee's wrote a letter asking for details of tracking undertaken by its mobile phones.

Last year, a US judge threw out a similar data privacy lawsuit, after ruling the plaintiffs had failed to show any evidence that they had bothered to read Apple's privacy policies before they bought their iPhones.

We have contacted Apple for comment but have received no reply. ®

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