A Surrey, British Columbia woman has filed an action in the B.C. Supreme Court, alleging that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL, Stock Forum) has violated her privacy and the security rights of users of mobile devices running the software operating system iOS4.
They include the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
The suit has been filed under the Class Proceedings Act by Amanda Ladas, who is bidding to have it certified as a class action suit.
Subject to a court hearing that is likely to occur late in 2013, between two and seven million users of the iPhone, iPad and iPod devices in Canada would be eligible to join the class action suit against Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, which ranks as one of the world’s leading consumer electronics and personal computer companies.
Before Hurricane Sandy shuttered stock markets in New York this week, positive investor sentiment had pushed the stock to $604 on Nasdaq where it trades in a 52-week range of $705.07 and $363.32.
Ladas is an administrative assistant who has filed hundreds of pages of documents in court in a bid to secure class action status, along with reports by experts.
She owns an iPod Touch, which she [along with son Jackson] received as a gift last December. Court documents show she is also the owner of an iPhone 4, which she bought in April 2011.
Both devices used the i0S4 operating system.
“After I started using the iDevices, I read various reports on the internet that alleged that Apple was tracking my whereabouts through my iDevices,’’ Ladas said in an affidavit filed in court on October 29. “I also read that this information was stored in unencrypted form in my iDevices and on any computers that I backed them up to, and could easily be accessed by anyone.’’
The suit alleges that Apple has violated the privacy and security rights of users of its products by the design, production, distribution and /or operation of i0S4, and has engaged in deceptive acts or practices that have the capability, tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading class members and that these practices entitle members of the class to aggravated, punitive and/or exemplary damages.
Ladas says she did not consent to having her information tracked, collected and stored when she purchased and activated her iPhone. She considers the comings and goings of herself and her family to be personal and sensitive information.
She has retained legal counsel Ganapathi and Co. of Vancouver and a number of leading experts in digital forensics examination, information security, networking and systems administration, geographic profiling and clinical and forensic psychology.
Digital Forensics expert Francis Graf examined Ladas’s iPhone and desktop computer and found that her location data, going back approximately one year, was easily accessible using free tools readily available on the Internet.
Graff’s investigation found that iOS4x stores specific location-based data in encrypted form, including dates and times, associated with geographic location co-ordinates. The data is copied onto any computer the devices are connected to when they are backed up.
Each successive backup file contains new location data for approximately one year prior to the date of that backup, thereby increasing the aggregate location-based data stored in unencrypted form.
Information security, networking and systems administration expert Eric Smith investigated the methods by which the physical location of i0S4x device could be shared with outside parties, including Apple Corp.
His report shows for the first time exactly how Apple is aware of the physical location of every device operating i0S4x through a technique known as “wardriving.”
The action filed in the B.C. Supreme Court also includes a report by geographic profiler Kim Rossmo, who details how this easily accessible information can be used.
Rossmo’s report raises questions about the protection of privacy, and the choices people are, or more importantly are not, making in giving up this sensitive information.
“Smart phones provide great functionality and utility. However, by the very use of this wide-ranging functionality, an individual reveals much about their personal preferences, choices, and behaviours,’’ Rossmo said in his report.
“There is great value in this personal data for Apple and other businesses; however, individuals are not paid for it and they do not realize that they might be giving it away,’’ he said.
Rossmo goes on to say that no-one would want indiscriminate disclosure of their banking information or credit card purchase history.
“Similarly, few who understand the full implications of sharing the information in their backup file would willingly agree to do so,’’ he said.
The allegations in the Ladas’s claim remain unproven until such times as they are tested in court, and Apple has repeatedly reassured the public that it is “not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans ever to do so,” the company has said.
Apple has yet to file a response to the claims filed in B.C.