While thousands of people around the world were lined up to buy the new iPad, and Apple’s stock price (AAPL) was soaring to new highs, a small group of lawyers was busy poking a small hole in Apple’s balloon. Claiming that ” a number of companies in the mobile app industry have put their own growth and profit above their customers’ privacy interests,” the attorneys filed a federal class action suit in Austin, Texas. The suit names Apple, Facebook, Twitter and 15 other social media companies as defendants, and seeks “injunctive relief and recoveries,” for a class of mobile device users who say their address books were accessed without their knowledge when they downloaded video games or photo-sharing apps.
The lawsuit’s goal is prohibit the collection of personal data, and to force companies to erase any data they have already uploaded, although the plaintiffs made no mention of how they thought this could be accomplished or verified.
Photo sharing apps have come under fire for allegedly tracking users’ locations by accessing the GPS coordinates of photos stored on mobile devices. Meanwhile the popular online journal Path has come under fire for uploading user address books without consent, and has issued a public apology saying it deleted the information from its servers.
Earlier this month Senator Charles Schumer asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the possibility that mobile apps are engaging in unfair trade practices and violating users’ privacy. Apple and Google have both agreed to meet with the New York Democrat to discuss the issue.
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