Apple Cleared of Wiretapping Claims


SAN JOSE (CN) – A federal judge Monday found no evidence that Apple’s failure to deliver text messages sent via iMessage to non-iPhone users amounts to wiretapping.
     Lead plaintiffs Kenneth Morris and Adam Backhaut sued Apple in May 2014, claiming they stopped receiving text messages sent by iMessage when they switched to phones run on the Android operating system.
     U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh consolidated that case in November 2014 with one brought by Adrienne Moore, who also alleged undelivered messages. Koh denied class certification in August.
     In her heavily-redacted ruling Monday, Koh found Apple’s iMessage server does not meet the definition of a “device” under the Wiretap Act, nor could the plaintiffs show that Apple intercepted their messages within the meaning of the law.
     “In the instant case, plaintiffs argue that ‘the iMessage server caused [plaintiffs’] messages to be intercepted at the exact moment of transmission as a result of a structural defect,’ resulting in messages being sent as iMessages to users who cannot receive iMessages. However, plaintiffs have not identified any structural defect that misclassifies or redirects messages as iMessages ‘at the exact moment of transmission,'” Koh wrote. “Defendant does not ‘intercept’ the message within the meaning of the Wiretap Act by erroneously classifying the message as an iMessage.”
     Koh agreed with Apple that its server falls under the Wiretap Act’s “ordinary course of business” exception, saying the evidence, redacted and undisputed by both sides, showed that the iMessage server never operated outside its ordinary functions. A device acting within the ordinary course of business, Koh wrote, cannot form the basis of a Wiretap Act claim. She granted Apple’s motion for summary judgment.

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