Technology Privacy Update: Limited Class Action Ruling Allowed Against Apple & Path App

Apple Inc. and Path Inc. are in the hot seat once again after United States District Court Judge Jon Tigar for the Northern District of California ruled that close to 500,000 Apple users could bring a limited class action against both companies. The Path app, which could be downloaded to all sorts of “iDevices”, data mined user information, specifically email addresses, without notifying users. The private data mining is suspected to have gone on between early November 2011 and early February 2012; after that date, Path Inc. added a disclosure and the choice to opt-out of data collection.

The class in the lawsuit was actually narrowed down from a much larger group that tried to sue both Apple and Path. Judge Tigar decided to limit the class action due to the fact that most people could not show how their privacy was violated or concrete and nonspeculative damages that resulted from the alleged privacy violations. He did clarify that the actions of Apple, who allegedly knew about the data mining practices of Path, constitute “intrusion upon seclusion”, a viable cause of action in California and thus although other states may not recognize such a cause of action, because it was a valid cause of action in California such provided a basis for allowing the class to proceed.

Legal Professional Weighs In on the Situation

The Northern California Record spoke with Los Angeles Technology Attorney Torin Dorros of Dorros Law for some legal insight about the case. He claimed that Judge Tigar’s ruling could actually be seen as a victory for both the plaintiffs and the defendants. On the one hand, the plaintiffs are allowed to move their class action forward in a largely unprecedented case that easily could have been dismissed until the relevant law on the issue is cleared up; on the other, the defendants are up against a much smaller group of people due to the severe restrictions placed against the plaintiffs.

Overall, Attorney Dorros stated, the lawsuit is really about the crucial importance of letting customers choose when and why they will have their information shared. One of the main reasons Path Inc. is not facing an even larger plaintiff group is due to the “opt-out” provision they later added to their app after initial complaints of privacy violations were made. Even before the case concludes, it has shaped how technology companies are handling data mining and in-app disclosures.

If you or your company have questions regarding technology privacy issues, including questions about related technology litigation or privacy litigation or how to ensure that you have the proper privacy protections in place, whether they be opt-in or opt-out provisions or properly worded terms and conditions and privacy policies please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Dorros Law.

For the full article published by the Northern California Record that featured Attorney Dorros, click here. To learn more about Dorros Law or retain the services of the firm’s Los Angeles technology attorney, interested parties can call 310.935.0621 or fill out an online case evaluation form.