Class Action Suit Filed Against Apple over Location Tracking

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Two men in Florida have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple over the recently-reported hidden database file found on iPhones and 3G-enabled iPads that periodically records users’ location coordinates.

The suit claims that “users of Apple products have … no way to prevent Apple from collecting this information because even if users disable the iPhone and iPad GPS components, Apple’s tracking system remains fully functional,” according to

This data collection technique has apparently been in use since the release of iOS 4 (the current operating system running on the iPhone and iPad), which has been out for about a year. And while the initial report indicated that the data being collected wasn’t being sent to Apple, subsequent reports claimed that location information was being sent to Apple twice daily unless Location Services were disabled in the settings menu.

So the distinction appears to be that as long as you’ve turned off the Location Services feature, your location information won’t be sent to Apple. What people are upset about, though, is the fact that the iPhone will continue to collect location information and store it in a file. When an iPhone is synchronized to a computer, that file gets transferred and the location data stored within the file can be viewed by anyone with access to the computer unless the backup is encrypted first.

Although the privacy policy for iOS 4 contains a clause stating that Apple will collect anonymous “diagnostic and usage information” from users, this lawsuit claims that such information should be conveyed in a “single sentence disclosure.” The privacy policy’s wording deceives users “into believing that their every move would not be tracked by Apple and then stored for future use in an Apple-designed database,” according to the lawsuit.

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