Apple loves to claim a pro-privacy stance, but three iTunes users claim that the company disclosed their listening habits to advertisers. While Apple CEO Tim Cook says, “We are very much on your side,” this situation may prove otherwise.
In a lawsuit filed last week, the users say Apple sold personal listening information directly to third parties. They also say that app developers were given access to iTunes libraries through Media Player.
The users themselves come from Rhode Island and Michigan, so part of their claim is that Apple violated laws specific to those states. They’re seeking a class-action status alongside other state residents.
“Apple has disregarded its legal responsibilities to these individuals by systematically disclosing their Personal Listening Information,” the document said.
The lawsuit specifically referenced Apple’s attempts to “capitalize on recent revelations concerning the data-sharing practices of its competitors.”
In early 2019, Apple put up a massive billboard in Las Vegas stating, “What happens on your iPhones, stays on your iPhone.” However, the document claims that the statement is “plainly untrue.”
Variety does point out that data brokers can get their information from a lot of sources. Users’ information can be retrieved through various records that aren’t necessarily coming from Apple.
Right now, Apple’s Media Player says developers have to get users’ permission before accessing music libraries. It also says that they’re “not permitted to use this framework to gather information about the users’ audio content, or to use such information for any purpose other than audio playback within your app.”
However, the lawsuit points out that Apple automatically allowed full access only a few years ago. Even with the changes, the lawsuit argues that Apple still makes it way too easy to gather data through iTunes.
Since the lawsuit was filed recently, it’s hard to predict how it will turn out. The plaintiff’s biggest challenge will be proving that they were harmed.