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News May 26, 2019

Class action accuses Apple of selling users’ listening data to third parties

Class action accuses Apple of selling users’ listening data to third parties

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple, with plaintiffs alleging that the company has sold the data of its users to various third parties.

As Billboard notes, Leigh Wheaton, Jill Paul and Trevor Paul – from the states of Rhode Island and Michigan – filed their lawsuit in California’s Northern Federal District on Friday, seeking $5 million in damages from Apple.

According to Apple’s Privacy Policy, the company only collects what they describe as “non-personal information” which may be used, transferred, and disclosed at their behest.

This information specifically relates to date that cannot be used to identify an individual, and is said to be used solely in an effort to help better understand their customers and the way their products are used.

However, this new lawsuit disputes this claim, noting that even Apple’s “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone” billboards in Las Vegas are just pushing false information.

“None of the information pertaining to the music you purchase on your iPhone stays on your iPhone,” the lawsuit claims, alleging that Apple has been mining and selling personal information to third parties, violating the privacy laws of various US states.

“The data Apple discloses includes the full names and home addresses of its customers, together with the genres and, in some cases, the specific titles of digitally-recorded music that its customers have purchased via the iTunes Store and then stored in their devices,” the lawsuit continues.

Image of the recent Las Vegas ad campaign by Apple (Credit: Marck Hachman)

Image of the recent Las Vegas ad campaign by Apple (Credit: Marck Hachman)

The plaintiffs also allege that the personal listening information of Apple’s customers has been sold as well, providing the information to developers of mobile apps, data aggregators, and various other third parties.

“The Personal Listening Information of 18,188,721 ‘iTunes and Pandora Music Purchasers,’ residing across the United States (including in Michigan and Rhode Island), is offered for sale on the website of Carney Direct Marketing.”

“For example, any person or entity could rent a list with the names and addresses of all unmarried, college-educated women over the age of 70 with a household income of over $80,000 who purchased country music from Apple via its iTunes Store mobile application,” the lawsuit continues.

“Such a list is available for sale for approximately $136 per thousand customers listed.”

The class action is seeking $250 for each customer from the state of Rhode Island who had their information disclosed, while $5,000 per each customer in Michigan is being sought, in accordance with the privacy laws in these states.

Apple are yet to publicly respond to the lawsuit.

Check out an ad from Apple discussing device privacy:

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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