iPhone location-tracking lawsuit against Apple is dismissed

iPhone location

Back in 2011 Apple faced a minor uproar when it was discovered that the iPhone maintained a cache of Wi-Fi network and cell tower location data to help the device locate itself faster than GPS alone would. That eventually led to a class action lawsuit, but as Reuters reports that suit has now been dismissed outright.

The development came on Monday, and covered two different sets of claims: the first was that Apple had allegedly designed iOS to make it easy to transmit iPhone users' personal information to third-party app developers, without approval or consent — something the plaintiffs said wasn't in line with Apple's privacy policy. The reassurances in the policy were a big reason why they chose the iPhone, they argued, and given the actual behavior Apple had essentially tricked them into overpaying. They also said the transmission of their personal information harmed the performance of their phones, reducing battery life and taking up valuable storage space.

The plaintiff said he would have paid less if he'd known about the issue

The second set of claims covered the location-tracking issue. Apple's software license agreements in 2011 stated that no location information would be collected and sent to Apple servers if Location Services were turned off in the Settings app, but starting with iOS 4.1 the iPhone did in fact build a database of Wi-Fi network and cell tower locations on the device and send it to Apple even when Location Services were deactivated. Apple attributed the behavior to a bug at the time, and resolved it with iOS 4.3.3. The plaintiff in this case also argued that he would have paid less for the iPhone if he'd known about the Location Services issue.

Judge Lucy Koh disagreed that the plaintiffs in this case had actually proven that the assurances in Apple's documentation were important deciding factors for them when they purchased their iPhones. If they hadn't relied upon them in the first place, then any misrepresentation couldn't have caused them harm. "As Plaintiffs have failed to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether any Plaintiff actually relied on any of Apple's alleged misrepresentations," Koh wrote, "the Court concludes that no plaintiff has standing to pursue either the iDevice or geolocation claims."

The Verge
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