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Friday, March 01, 2013, 07:43 am PT (10:43 am ET)

Apple says iPhone tracking lawsuit doesn't demonstrate harm

Apple is looking to block a class action lawsuit that claims the company wrongfully collected and distributed data from millions of customers' mobile devices, on the grounds that the plaintiffs in the case cannot prove their claims.

watching you

Example of iOS geographical data plotting. | Source: O'Reilly Radar


Apple legal representatives asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh at a hearing on Wednesday to deny a request from the plaintiffs' counsel to designate their case as a class action suit, Bloomberg reports. The suit is the same one Judge Koh said last year that Apple must defend against, though multiple defendants have been dropped from the claims.

The plaintiffs allege that Apple has allowed free apps from its iTunes App Store to gather personal information without their consent. Apple, they claim, gathered data on their geographical locations through apps on their iPhones and iPads even after they had signaled that they did not want such information collected.

Apple claims that the plaintiffs have failed to prove that any tracking resulted in harm to them. The lawyers for the plaintiffs recently dropped their claims to damages, Apple argued, and have only attempted to gain class-action status "in a desperate attempt" to recover fees.

Previously, AdMarvel Inc, Admob Inc, Flurry Inc, and Google had been named as defendants in the case, but all have been dropped since the case began, leaving only Apple.

The suit hinged upon apps' access to a mobile device's unique device identifier (UDID), a number given to each wireless iDevice allowing ad agencies to track usage across apps. Apple has begun restricting UDID usage by apps, as well as rejecting some apps that use the code, but a few are still allowed to access the UDID.