Thu Mar 29th, 2018 at 05:06:19 AM EST
App Makers Settle Privacy Class Action for $5.3 Million
A federal judge on Tuesday [27 MARCH 2018] finalized a $5.3 million deal to settle claims that Twitter, Instagram and other app makers uploaded Apple device users' personal data without consent.
Lead plaintiff Marc Opperman sued Apple and 17 app developers in March 2012 in one of five consolidated class actions. The plaintiffs claimed Apple allowed app makers to swipe their contacts data, including email addresses, from iPhones and other devices without permission.
The eight respondents identified in the article are Twitter, [Facebook subsidiary] Instagram, Yelp, Foursquare,Foodspotting, Gowalla, Kik Interactive and Kong Technologies<, which acquired the social media app Path in 2015.
In July 2016, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar certified a nationwide class of 480,000 Apple device users for claims against Apple and Path. But last year, Tigar denied class certification for claims of false advertising against Apple, finding little evidence that Apple extensively touted data security in its marketing and advertising.
Despite Apple's much touted defense in 2016 for refusing an FBI demand for it to decode firmware-encrypted data stored in a San Bernardino murderer's iPhone. At the time
Apple corp-comm stated, "From the beginning, we objected to the FBI's demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government's [motion for] dismissal, neither of these occurred." Within a month of filing its lawsuit, the FBI however either succeeded on its own or employed a third-party to "unlock" data stored in the specific iPhone or Apple's proprietary server equipment
("the Cloud"). That news evidently provoked the added complaints against Apple's misrepresentation(s) about software security features and services (firmware and proprietary operating system API) installed on its devices. For Apple also had published a letter of assurance
to its customers that tied quality control of its products to their political interests in preventing unlawful search or seizure of such (licensed) property.
The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers -- including tens of millions of American citizens -- from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.
Instrumental facts in this case, dating to 2012, bear a timely resemblance to the "architecture" of client and data exploits exclusively associated with Facebook titles and Cambridge Analytica "market research." But for the implication of various IP telecommunication device manufactures like Apple without whom purportedly non-consensual "personal information" acquisitions would be impossible. Tigar's final order appears to foreshadow the extent to which US courts are willing to reason and calculate restorative justice due survivors of IP "app" abuses.
The class is comprised of all persons in the United States who activated one of the applicable apps on an Apple device during the relevant time period. [Final Order]
Public notice to file claims on or before November 10, 2017 evidently attracted little attention. On the other hand, a 0.6% response rate over five years is tragic statement about the "app developers" actual, combined market share or size of dissatisfied users. However, the court appears to have exercised an active interest in mitigating the penalty for this "data breach". Not only did Tigar reduced plaintiffs' request for $15,000 class representative awards to $7,500 and $5,000, he instructed the U.S. Attorney to investigate "thousands of potentially fraudulent claims" to settlement proceeds.
Out of more than 13 million potential class members, 81,853 filed legitimate claims for nearly 300,000 downloads, according to a motion for final settlement approval filed in on Nov. 30, 2017.
One outcome that I hope escapes "best practice" in US Web 5.0 tort law is distribution of customer rewards in the form of an Amazon gift card.
Any funds from checks not cashed or failed Amazon payments will be distributed on a cy pres basis to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a leading non-profit defending civil liberties in the digital world.
In this case, each class member will receive a pro rata distribution of the $5,300,000 settlement fund based on the number of apps they downloaded. ... Given the number of submitted claims, each class member who did submit a claim will receive, on average, $39, or $10.70 per app downloaded. ... Given that the Court certified only claims for nominal and punitive damages, the settlement is possibly a better result than the potential recovery available at trial.[Final Order]
That's no way to deter marketable data "harvesting", redeemable downloads, and kickbacks.