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Apple Still on the Hook for Tracking User Data

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From the look of things, Apple (AAPL) has a bit of dissension in the ranks. Co-founder Steve Wozniak came out with another round of comments against the iPhone recently. He particularly dislikes Siri. In general, Wozniak has been very vocal about his preference for Android (GOOG) over the iPhone.

Meanwhile, Google managed to get a few steps ahead of Cupertino in another, entirely different realm. According to a recent court decision, Apple must defend itself against a lawsuit claiming that it let advertisers track user movements. Google, along with a number of other defendants, was dismissed from the suit.

Basically, the case stems from two programmers’ 2011 discovery that the iPhone was monitoring user movements. While Steve Jobs vigorously denied the allegations and claimed that his company had never tracked anyone, the suit alleges that Apple allowed third parties to collect data from iPhone owners who downloaded apps. Google and a few other developers were accused of doing the actual data collection.

According to Reuters, types of data gathered include: “Addresses, genders, ages, identifiers assigned to devices, and functions performed on particular apps.” Worse yet, “Some device owners said that Apple collected data about their precise whereabouts at a given moment.”

There is some good news for the computer giant, however. The judge in charge of the case threw out claims that Apple violated user privacy rights, along with allegations that fell under laws governing “computer fraud, wiretapping, and records disclosure.”

In throwing out the privacy claims, the judge stated that Apple’s behavior was not an “egregious breach of social norms.” Instead, it might be considered “routine commercial behavior.”

Scary, but probably true. Still, the rest of the lawsuit is moving forward, with the plaintiffs claiming that they overpaid for their devices thanks to Apple’s privacy promises and advertisers use of the phones’ bandwidth.

As Google is leaving Apple alone to defend itself in court, Microsoft (MSFT) is making a few moves of its own against the search giant. Recently, Microsoft began a partnership with Yelp with the intention of having its search engine, Bing, better compete against Google.

(See also: Apple Secretly Tracking iPhone, iPad Users’ Location and Apple Remains Boldly Arrogant in iPhone Tracking Press Release)
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