Apple sued for flogging private data

The fruit-themed seller of rubber band powered iPhones, Apple is being sued for allowing applications that transmit users’ personal information to advertising networks without customers’ consent.

According to AP,  the complaint has been filed in San Jose, California. It claims that Jobs’ Mob iPhones and iPads are encoded with identifying devices that allow advertising networks to track what applications users download, how frequently they’re used and for how long.

The suit, filed on behalf of Jonathan Lalo of Los Angeles County said that apps are also selling additional information to ad networks, including users’ location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views.

It names and shames Apple, Pandora, Paper Toss, the Weather Channel and, and names them as defendants along with Apple.

At the heart of the problem is the fruity Unique Device Identifier, or UDID, which can’t be blocked by users.

Then there is the small matter of the fact that Jobs makes a big thing about controlling which apps get onto his phones. This means by allowing those Apps he must be backing them.

Apple claims it doesn’t allow them to transmit user data without customer permission, when it clearly does, the complaint said.

The lawsuit, claiming the transmission of personal information is a violation of federal computer fraud and privacy laws, seeks class-action status for Apple customers who downloaded an application on their iPhone or iPad between December 1, 2008, and last week.

Apple is saying nothing. Of course it is Christmas and it might be on holiday, but given that quotes from Apples on court cases are as rare as a sighting of the dodo, or an ethical politician,  we probably think it will continue to say nothing.