Class Action Lawsuit Claims Apple Sells Customer Data

Apple is facing a new Class Action lawsuit over allegations that its collects and then sells personal information without consent. The case was filed in Massachusetts District Court in Boston by Adam Christensen, Jeffrey Scolnick, and William Farrell who claim Apple forces customers to provide their Zip code as to complete in store purchases and then sells the information it collects to third-party companies.

Apple faces class action lawsuit for collecting and selling personal informationApple faces class action lawsuit for collecting and selling personal information

According to the Class Action lawsuit, Apple's policy violates Massachusetts laws prohibiting companies from requiring customers to divulge personal information when making credit card transactions. The information Apple is collecting isn't required by credit card companies, they argue, therefore the policy can't be enforced in the state.

The personal information Apple is collecting, they claim, is then sold to other companies without any compensation to customers. Under Massachusetts law, collecting personal data that's not required by credit card companies, and then providing that information to other parties, constitutes unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Whether or not Apple collects personal information during transactions isn't at question; it's how the company tracks our purchases and makes later purchases an easier process because receipts can be emailed without reentering addresses. The convenience factor enhances customer service, although in this case the plaintiffs clearly aren't comfortable with the practice.

Apple doesn't require customers to pay with credit cards, although the company does make that the most convenient method for completing transactions. All Apple Stores accept cash, too, and personally identifying information isn't required.

Whether or not Apple is actually selling customer information to third parties isn't quite so clear cut. The company collects customer data to track purchases and make future transactions easier, but its policies only say that it can share some information, not that it does.

The plaintiffs have asked for monetary damages as well as an injunction to stop Apple from requiring personal information during credit card transactions, as well as legal expenses. Apple hasn't commented on the lawsuit.

[Thanks to Patently Apple for the heads up]

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]