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back to article Smartphone users sue Apple, Facebook over mobile app privacy

Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Apple, Foursquare and 13 other prominent social media firms have been hit with a lawsuit accusing them of supplying mobile applications that invade users' privacy. The class-action lawsuit was filed by 13 private individuals in Austin, Texas – where geek tech fest SXSW has just shut up shop. The suit …

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Unhappy

Difficult to stop privacy breaches w/o leglislation.

The only way to stop Apple, Facebook etc. invading users' privacy is to sue them and be successful. If law suits are successful and the lobby big enough then legislation might be enacted stop them.

Of course, legislation will only ensue if the effective lobby from users greatly exceeds the paid lobbyists from Apple etc. (that's how our democracies work these days).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Difficult to stop privacy breaches w/o leglislation.

Democracy DOESNT work! Look at the failure of the States! The ‘capital’ of do whatever you want except be a terrorist or a paedophile!

Humans beings are not intelligent enough to know or decent enough to care.

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Big Brother

Re: Difficult to stop privacy breaches w/o leglislation.

In the UK it's called the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

If I do not authorise you to access my photo's using a backdoor in your app, then it's "go to jail" time.

>IF< anybody can explain the law to the Met, we might actually get some enforcement done. (for example on unauthorised access of voice mail systems)

Violation of S1/CMA90 is up to 12 months (E&W) or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

Any smartalec US firms that think their EULA small print covers it, sorry your EULA is probably unlwaful under the EU Unfair Contract Terms directive

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Anonymous Coward

if you want to use our service

Please tick the box agreeing to everything we want

Or

You can't join us.

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Anonymous Coward

linkedin

Why do I keep getting email invites from people who are in my phone book?

They deny they have sent the email.

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Anonymous Coward

Worse yet

Even worse, I am not even a user of any of these social networks and yet they have all my details because some twat I'm real-life-friend with or someone from my family (at least I can choose my friends!) has given away my phone number, address, birth date, emails and god knows what in *his* address book.

How can this state of affair be allowed when even if these site's users were to agree to their T&Cs, they have no right to include unsuspecting third-party data without their knowledge and consent.

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WTF?

Re: Worse yet

That's a very good point you make there sir! If my details are in your address book, that doesn't give these A**H*** companies the right to slurp MY details from your address book, EVEN IF YOU have given them permission to splurp YOURS!

This raises another interesting question vis-a-vis the DPA - If I have the names & addresses, telephone numbers, emails, birthdays and other information about friends and aquaintances in my address book on my computer, does that also place me under the constraints of the DPA? Thereby making me liable to prosecution if that data leaks from my control (as the data controller of the data on my PC)?

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Thumb Up

Good, good

Sue the hell out of whoever tries to invade privacy without an explicit approval! Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to stop using the worst privacy invaders (google, facebook, smartphones, etc.) So far no real success though, heh.

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Facepalm

Seems to be misconception

Social networks are all about being sociable, that is telling everyone (that will listen) about yourself and your 314,143 and 1/4 friends, only you haven't the time so the apps do it for you.

Whoever thought that placing your personal information in the public domain was a private matter seems to have got their wires crossed and has no idea how the services they use are paid for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems to be misconception

I didn't realize that giving my personal information to my grandad or my nephew was the same thing as placing it in the public domain. Yet, according to you, this is what happens when they then upload their address book to Twitbook and the likes and I should just live with it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems to be misconception

I refuse to sign up to Facebook, Google+, Twatter, et all for reasons personal to me, except I am not even given the choice as some mate decided to put my number in his address book and I am automatically included in Zuckerbergs weird little dimension for the very fact that my number is attached to one his brainwashed and braindead minions!

I signed no T&C and I made no request to sign up, so I don't want my details bandied around like so much wind blown confetti without my consent, OK?!

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Thumb Up

Cry 'Havoc' !

Let slip the dogs of Law !

Let their parts-most-private be consigned to a Rutland tree !

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Anonymous Coward

Context?

I'm not personally interested or involved in any of the 'social media' apps or organisations, but I do use Apple kit and I'm interested to know the context in which these allegations are being made. My email, for example, is handled by Apple servers and therefore a large part of my communication is constantly uploaded to Apple. I also use iCloud, so the full contents of address books, notes, bookmarks, some files, etc are also constantly uploaded to Apple. However, this is all covered by a pretty strict privacy agreement and is done with my knowledge and consent.

But in what context is Apple secretly harvesting information from me? Is it for some other service, or do they see Apple as an accomplice because they provide the framework (OS and hardware) in which 3rd party apps secretly extract data? If the latter is true, does this mean all OS vendors are culpable if any hosted application behaves illegally, e.g. we could sue Microsoft if the OS allows malware to run?

There is a very serious distinction to be made here. I don't like the idea that companies entrusted with our data make secret gains from it. But a blanket, "we'll sue you if any of our data is uploaded", is completely ridiculous - that's how much of the Internet works, e.g. synchronising contacts via the cloud. Privacy laws need to clearly define both the context in which data uploading is legal, and who is culpable for a breach. If they don't, we'll see a new breed of 'privacy trolls' lining behind the patent variety (with equally damaging results).

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Anonymous Coward

"I'm not personally interested or involved in any of the 'social media' apps or organisations, but I do use Apple kit and I'm interested to know the context in which these allegations are being made. My email, for example, is handled by Apple servers and therefore a large part of my communication is constantly uploaded to Apple"

Oh well, nothing to worry about there then!

Really, it doesn't matter if it's Apple, Google or Microsoft, we are all just currency to them.

Live in the 21st century and be"traded", or live in the "dark ages" and keep your privacy (to an extent - after all your mates iPhone's got you contact details in it, so no matter what you do, 'they'' have got you).

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Anonymous Coward

Proof?

@Obviously!: "...it doesn't matter if it's Apple, Google or Microsoft, we are all just currency to them."

So you're alleging that Apple doesn't honour its privacy policy and extracts data from my email and private files held in iCloud? If true, that's a very serious crime - do you have any evidence, links, proof of any kind? Or is this just another way to say, "I hate Apple"?

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Proof?

Strict terms and conditions?

You may be asked to provide your personal information anytime you are in contact with Apple or an Apple affiliated company. Apple and its affiliates may share this personal information with each other and use it consistent with this Privacy Policy. They may also combine it with other information to provide and improve our products, services, content, and advertising.

.....Because this information is important to your interaction with Apple, you may not opt out of receiving these communications.

We may collect information such as occupation, language, zip code, area code, unique device identifier, location, and the time zone where an Apple product is used so that we can better understand customer behavior and improve our products, services, and advertising.

We also may collect information regarding customer activities on our website, iCloud and MobileMe services, and iTunes Store...... This information is aggregated....Aggregated data is considered non-personal information for the purposes of this Privacy Policy.

So in other words, you have no privacy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Proof?

@Lost all faith: "in other words, you have no privacy"

I'm still missing the bit where this has anything to do with my address book contents, email, personal files, or anything else relating to this article.

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Silver badge
Trollface

Not Google?

"Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Apple, Foursquare and 13 other prominent social media firms"

Google must be feeling lonely and ignored, they are trying so hard to get in social...

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FAIL

"Foursquare ... mobile applications that invade users' privacy."

Well, um, yeah. An app that makes public posts on social networking sites when you check in at a place. Every time I see someone check in at a place using Foursquare and similar, I link them to pleaserobme.com

It's like people are aware of but completely ignoring these things.

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Gold badge

It's funny how applications can do the same on your computer with no warning and there's no controls to stop it either. Yet nobody complains or even know about it?

Why are phones different? possibly because people trust app stores to weed out the bad applications. Plus people keep more personal data on their phones (not everyone has phone numbers on their PC).

But ultimately it has been proven that mobile app developers can't be trusted and so further controls are going to be needed. This is a shame as it means huge annoyances in having to authorise access to so many APIs when running an application.

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Silver badge

really?

That's funny, my local hosts file and the search order (hosts, then dns) prevents most of it.

The one that I have trouble blocking is Google's dns query of [maybe random GUID].google.com, since they're hard to block.

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Bronze badge

How far in speech can I go without getting a warrant on me in every country?

If this is true, heads need to roll. Every programmer and exec involved who didn't fight this internally deserves to be sued into a corner so black-hole dense s/he will make him/herself unborn and not come back for 5,000 years.

This is why I don't give responses to the birthday apps and all those damned facebook games. I reject even relatives, because they are being stupid and not considering that putting my details in some fracking 3rd party app is an act that deprives me of my right to selectively say, "NO".

Facebook and all the others KNOW and calculate their decisions to create these data dragnets.

And, governments that are data savvy know it too, and that is why so far they are mute on this. Social sites are the Data Hoovers the governments themselves claim they are not allowed to be, and though there are rules, laws, and constructs, these companies operate in flagrant impunity.

If their buildings implode or get ransacked by human hands, or collapsed by quakes, floods, or hurrinados, I will clap for every person whose data was vacuumed by surreptitious means.

Privacy is supposed to mean privacy, not a la cart access.

Maybe someone should start passing out small cards warning kids not to grow up data-dumb, and to be data-privacy-concerned.

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Bronze badge
Pint

Is LinkedIn on that list?

Just curious, as I set up an account a while ago at the behest of a few professional friends. As I worked my way thru the registration process (torturous bloody interface that it is - messy & designed to confuse at first glance, to my eyes at least) my computers address book was hoovered up - friends, family - the lot, necessitating a manual cull of the uploaded info after I had finished. Now,obviously, I messed up somewhere in the process - However, after all was done, I was left with the feeling that somehow I had been mildly misled by a process & UI that seemed to me intentionally awkward & obfuscated. I have seldom use Linkedin after that.

(As an aside, every time I ask some with an account if they've garnered any genuine business out of it, so far they've all said "no".)

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Anonymous Coward

I would not called this invation to privacy, I call it stealing, plain and simple.

This people steal information. They are not better than people that try to place Trojans and malware inside a computer to steal bank accounts and any information that you have there. In my eyes no difference whatsoever. If a person out there did this they would be arrested and placed in Jail! Maybe is time to grab some CEOs and lock them up for thieving, lying to the public! Now a regular thieve from the street try to pull a stunt like this the cops would be knocking at his doors. He would be dragged out like a piece of meat to jail! I just can't stand this double standards! They are stealing, just like Trojans and Malware do when they enter a computer! A lot of people have their lives on those phones, they are mini computers! Make them do the time, take them out whip their wanna be Royal arses! Just my 2 cents! : -)

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