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Monday, February 04, 2013, 01:22 pm PT (04:22 pm ET)

California court clears Apple in credit card privacy suit

California's Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Apple did not violate the state's privacy laws by requiring that customers provide addresses and phone numbers to accept credit card payments.

Plaintiffs in the case, Reuters reports, had sued Apple and a number of other online retailers, all of which required customers to provide both addresses and phone numbers in order to complete credit card purchases. The plaintiffs — who had purchased content from iTunes — claimed that the requirement constituted a violation of California privacy laws, which prohibit retailers from unnecessarily gathering consumer information.

iTunes front face


In a split decision, the court ruled that those laws do not apply to online purchases that are downloaded electronically. The same court ruled in 2011 that those privacy protections do apply to physical retail locations, barring brick and mortar stores from requesting customers' ZIP codes during credit card purchases.

The three dissenting judges called the ruling a win for retailers but "a major loss for consumers, who in their online activities already face an ever-increasing encroachment upon their privacy."

The four judges of the majority said the plaintiff had raised "ominous assertions" about Apple encroaching on consumer privacy rights. Those assertions, "though eye-catching, do not withstand scrutiny," they wrote in the majority opinion.