Apple Defeats Class-Based Privacy Claims on Standing Arguments
Apple successfully defeated claims asserting it had violated its privacy policies in designing its iOS environment to allow personal information to be shared to third-party app makers. Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California granted summary judgment in Apple’s favor, holding that the named plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate they relied on any alleged misrepresentations. As a result, Judge Koh held that the named plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their claims and denied as moot the pending motion for class certification. In so ruling, Judge Koh found there were sufficient issues of disputed fact to preclude a ruling in Apple’s favor on the issue of whether plaintiffs had suffered any injury in fact or damage based on their allegations that they overpaid for their iPhones, and by losing battery life, storage space, and bandwidth from their phone due to the transmission of personal information. Apple’s victory underscores again that the best defense strategy in privacy-related putative class actions that are not susceptible to threshold motions to dismiss may be attacking the named plaintiff’s claims on the merits rather than the more typical practice of fighting class certification first—a strategy that has also proved successful in other privacy-related cases.
Google’s US$17.5 Million Settlement With AGs Over “Do Not Track” Feature
Following on last year’s US$22.5 million settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission, Google announced a US$17.5 million settlement with the state attorneys general for 37 states. These settlements, along with private class actions, arose as a result of Google’s use of code to circumvent the Do Not Track feature in Apple’s Safari web browser. In addition to the monetary payments, Google has agreed to provide better information to its customers about its online tracking practices and to ensure that its code is set to allow Safari cookies to expire. Two key takeaways: First, this is yet another example where state attorneys general seek their pound of flesh even after a significant settlement is paid to federal authorities or agencies. Second, any company considering a privacy-related settlement with the FTC or federal authorities should consider how that settlement will impact on private class-action attorneys and state attorneys general, who may in fact be encouraged to pursue copycat claims after the settlement is made public.
View the full story here (source: The Hill).