When a tech company improperly accesses your personal information to better serve its interests, or doesn’t disclose essential details about how it operates, it might just be that the company owes you money.
And a few of the 90 million Americans who use an iPhone are in luck, as several companies have agreed to pay $5.3 million to customers stemming from a class action lawsuit filed against Apple in 2012. Developers for Twitter, Yelp, Instagram and other companies allegedly violated user privacy by mining customer contact lists on iOS devices between 2009 and 2012. Using the “Find My Friends” feature of several apps, contact lists were stored on company servers without customer consent.
Yelp is a primary culprit. A lawyer for the company argued in a San Francisco court that the location and review service needed to access users' contact lists to identify other customers. The judge obviously disagreed, but noted that Apple allowed the privacy violation on its iOS devices in the first place:
“Fundamentally, this case is about whether Apple’s conduct and that of application developers violated community norms of privacy. A ‘reasonable’ expectation of privacy is an objective entitlement founded on broadly based and widely accepted community norms.”
The abuse of the “Find My Friends” feature occurred between a three year period, so there are lots of people -- ostensibly millions -- eligible for some kind of payout. However, no one should expect a windfall, since the companies have only agreed to amend the damage with a $5.3 million settlement to be dispersed in a customer pool. If you’ve been affected and are interested in compensation, you can check this unofficial claim Q&A.
Lawsuits like this are becoming increasingly common, and not only because tech companies like to pilfer user data. Amazon is currently in the midst of a $70 million refund program, paying back customers who were charged for purchases made by their young children. Facebook also had a similar incident last year, which saw users refunded with $15 checks after their photos had been used by the company unknowingly. This also isn't the first time Apple has been embroiled in a similar controversy. And the list goes on.
Suffice it to say that security protocols are lacking in more ways than one, and you might be entitled to a check in the mail.
[h/t The Next Web]