App Makers Settle Privacy Class Action for $5.3M

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Twitter, Instagram and other app makers look likely to pay $5.3 million to settle class action claims that they uploaded Apple device users’ personal data without consent.

A motion for preliminary approval of the consolidated class action settlement was filed Monday night.

The five-year-old litigation stretches back to March 2012 when lead plaintiff Marc Opperman sued Apple and 17 app developers for allegedly letting companies swipe users’ address book data from iPhones and other devices without permission.

The eight settling app makers include Twitter, Instragram, Yelp, Foursquare, Foodspotting, Gowalla, Kik Interactive and Kong Technologies, which acquired the social media app Path.

The settlement does not resolve claims against Apple, which denied culpability for allowing apps to access users’ contact lists during a hearing in November 2016. A ruling on Apple’s motion for summary judgment is still pending.

Last July, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar certified a nationwide class of 480,000 Apple device users for claims against Apple and Path.

In September, Tigar refused to dismiss claims against Yelp, finding the crowd-sourcing business review app failed to explicitly disclose its intent to upload users’ contact data.

The proposed $5.3 million fund will cover all aspects of the settlement, including administering claims, incentive awards for class representatives and attorneys’ fees, according to the motion for preliminary settlement approval.

Class members will receive payments as electronic credits for, or as physical postcard checks for individuals who do not shop on Amazon “because sending physical checks to all claimants would be cost prohibitive,” according to the motion.

Potential class members will be notified of the settlement through a website, direct emails and “promoted tweet” advertisements on Twitter, according to the motion for tentative approval.

Lead class counsel David Given, of Phillips Erlewine Given & Carlin, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Tuesday.

A hearing on the motion for preliminary settlement approval is scheduled for May 25 in San Francisco.


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