Suit filed by iTunes users claims that Apple did make its customers the product

Suit filed by iTunes users claims that Apple did make its customers the product
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica story broke, revealing that 87 million Facebook members had their personal data used without permission, Apple and its CEO Tim Cook have been saying one thing over and over: Apple's customers are not its product. In other words, Apple won't sell personal data belonging to iPhone and iPad users. But according to Bloomberg, a lawsuit filed today by three people who live in Rhode Island and Michigan claims that Apple will sell information related to iTunes purchases without users' consent.

The complaint, filed in federal court in San Francisco, seeks class-action status. The suit claims that Apple's disclosure of iTunes customers' personal data is not just illegal, but is also dangerous because it allows bad actors to target the most vulnerable Americans. In the filing, the plaintiffs point out that any person or business can rent a list with "the name and addresses of unmarried, college-educated women over the age of 70 with a household income of over $80,000, who purchased country music from Apple via its iTunes Store mobile application." The plaintiffs add that "such a list is available for sale for approximately $136 per thousand customers listed." That means that a company or someone with malicious intent can pay just 13 cents per customer for this data.

Based on the different privacy laws for each state, the lawsuit asks the court to order Apple to pay $250 for each iTunes customer in Rhode Island whose personal information was disclosed by Apple, and $5,000 for each Michigan resident similarly impacted. The case is filed as Wheaton v Apple, and the latter has yet to issue a comment on the legal action.

"The customer is not our product" has been Tim Cook's mantra


Facebook had allowed personal data from 87 million users to be disclosed to Professor Aleksandr Kogan for research use only. Kogan turned around and sold the information to political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, which used the data for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. This violated a consent decree that Facebook signed with the FTC back in 2011 and the antitrust agency could smack Facebook with a fine as high as $5 billion in return. Around that time, Tim Cook was asked what he would do if he were Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Cook replied, "I wouldn’t be in this situation. We could make a ton of money if our customer was our product. We’ve elected not to do that."

Cook repeated the same line when he spoke in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last August. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ohio), then chairman of the committee, asked what Apple's position on privacy was. He also wanted to know how Apple collects customers' location data, and whether Siri could be used to listen in to conversations. Rep. Walden sent a similar letter to Alphabet CEO Larry Page, asking whether Google collects location data from Android users even with the location services setting disabled.

Suit accuses Apple of using its iTunes customers as the product

Suit accuses Apple of using its iTunes customers as the product


Interestingly, Apple put up a giant billboard earlier this year in Las Vegas to promote how secure personal data is on the iPhone. Riffing on the famous Las Vegas slogan, "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas," Apple's billboard said, "What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone." The billboard was strategically placed on a building that overlooked the Las Vegas Convention Center, which was hosting the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the time. On the bottom of the huge sign, you can see the web address of the company's privacy page (apple.com/privacy).

Apple unveiled the iTunes platform in January 2001 and it is one of the businesses in Apple's Services unit along with the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, AppleCare, Apple News+, Apple TV+ and starting this fall, Apple Arcade. Apple purchased the platform, then known as SoundJam MP, in 2000 and changed its name.

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16 Comments

1. blingblingthing

Posts: 887; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Let's see how this plays out in court.

2. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1521; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Did phonearena mass ban its readers? Comment section has been dead recently.

6. drunkenjay

Posts: 1645; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

who knows. i just dont comment cas all i see are fanboy wars.

15. Truthalltime

Posts: 40; Member since: Dec 08, 2018

Stories haven't been interesting

3. Leo_MC

Posts: 6618; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Apple does not have any of the info this dudes claim it sells. Another trial where Apple should at least ask for the plaintiffs pay them some million $ to cover the attorney fees.

4. Vokilam

Posts: 1092; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

how do you know. this is just a claim, but further investigation is warranted, this could be another "Mueller Report".

5. Leo_MC

Posts: 6618; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I know, because I use iTunes and I was never once asked my sex, if I am married, if I have a college degree or how much I earn. Also, in the terms of use Apple clearly states it does not need or collect that data in order to provide the user with services (iTunes or others).

8. oldskool50

Posts: 714; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

I see. You only believe what you wanna believe. But I encourage you to look at this. They have this saying that; "what you don't know won't hurt you". Well the fact is that has always been a lie. What you don't know can hurt you. Because if you didn't know that liquid hydrogen could freeze your hand to absolute zero in a manner of seconds, you would find out the hard way how bad it can hurt you. Not trying to change tour mine. But what I am saying is, no matter what Apple policy and eulas say, you have no idea what they nor anyone else does behind closed doors. https://youtu.be/AUaJ8pDlxi8

7. oldskool50

Posts: 714; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Hahahahahaha. So much for the Apple BS. Apple is nothing but a bunch of liars Just like when they for busted hoarding cellular data Apple and no one else cares about privacy. Maybe Apple is more selective, but they all use data to make money both inside and outside their walled gardens. It's just Google and Facebook weren't secretive and deceptive about it. Can't wait to see how the fans spin this into nothing as per usual. When are people gonna under this one simple fact: ALL CORPORATIONS ARE EVIL!!!! Why? Because; "MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVEIL". Corporations have went as far as killing innocent people all in the name of their bottom lines. Boeing is a perfect example. Corps don't care about you. You are a number. A number that represent how many Benjamin's they can make off you and they will do anything they can to get it. Once a company has your data, you have no idea what happens to it. Just like one news outlet says, when a person always has to claim they are a certain way, it usually turns out they are the total opposites. In other words, Apple constantly claiming they protect their customers data and don't sell it like Google or Facebook, was nothing more than reverse psychology. They were busted before in so many lies. Yet fools keep believing them. I believe no corporation because they are all greedy for money.

11. Vokilam

Posts: 1092; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Lets say you're right, lets say it is as horrible as your conspiracy theory suggests. At least with apple, I can sue if my personal info is shared/sold/exposed. With google - you cant, because they announce thats what they do for profit. If your data is shared/sold/exposed there's nothing you can do about it - you agreed to be "the product" when you first bought your android device, or downloaded chrome. With apple, if you suspect something, and it turns out to be true - you can get compensated. Real world, yo! dont be dunce..

13. oldskool50

Posts: 714; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

You can sue any company. If you know for a fact your specific data was use in any improper way, that is why lawsuits like this usually have class action status. Class action allows all affected to get in on the same lawwsuit. Knowing the laws and facts if what you can do, will make you smarter if you actually wanna be. I am in the class action brought against FB over the stolen data by Analytica. I received a message saying my data was compromised and used improperly. Many people got a letter automatically from the attorneys representing the class action which is how I found out.

16. Vokilam

Posts: 1092; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

You can’t sue if google disclosed they’re going to use your data for marketing purposes (selling it basically) upfront - which google does. So now you’re the product not the customer - so you can’t sue for that - but Apple states that it does not - so I can sue if they did.

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