iPhone Apps Send Your Personal Info to Ad Networks? Lawsuit Says Yes

Steve Jobs cast as Big Brother from Orwell's novel 1982

Privacy? Never heard of it. Want another iPod?

Apple lets apps on its iOS platform collect personal information about users and then send them to advertisement networks—at least according to a lawsuit filed last Thursday in Federal court. The lawsuit, which was filed in San Jose, CA’s U.S. District Court by Jonathan Lalo alleges that iOS devices like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch can be traced by UDID numbers (unique device identifiers). The transmission of these UDID numbers cannot be blocked by users.

Besides just Apple being named in the lawsuit, a number of companies behinds apps like Pandora, Paper Toss, and Dictionary.com are also defendants. The lawsuit is seeking class action status. Doesn’t every lawsuit against Apple?

“Some apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views” the lawsuit also claims.

A big part of the lawsuit stems from those UDID numbers. Because they allegedly cannot be blocked from being transmitted by apps, Apple’s iTunes App Store review processes supposedly prevents apps from being approved that collect such personal information without user consent. Then again, with all the apps making headlines from being pulled from iTunes after being approved by Apple, you have to wonder how competent the company’s reviewers actually are.

Then again, a certain level of privacy intrusion has to be expected in this digital age. Look at how much personal information people post on Facebook. Most people either don’t care enough or don’t know enough to set their privacy settings more strictly. In fact, many have their Facebook wall settings set that anyone can see what they are up to.

Going on vacation to Europe for the next three months lol. I hope no one steals my big screen TV or my new computer while I’m gone haha. Oh and Jon, the key to the backdoor is hidden under the fake rock next to it.” Okay, an extreme, made up example but I’m sure worse have hit Facebook before. Probably on a daily basis.

The question of how free apps are expected to make money without collection at least some user information is also up for debate. In fact, I’m quite happy letting Pandora know my age, gender, etc. At least that way the commercials I’m hit with are semi-interesting. I’m not in the market for adult diapers so please, keep the game advertisements coming.

Have an opinion? I know you do. Why not let us all hear it by leaving it in the comments below?

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