Amanda Ladas vs. Apple Inc. - Canadian woman files suit against world's most valuable company for breach of privacy
The claim alleges that Apple has violated the privacy and security rights of users of its products by the design, production, distribution and/or operation of iOS4, and has engaged in deceptive acts or practices that have the capability, tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading class members and that these practices entitle members of the class to aggravated, punitive and/or exemplary damages.
Ladas is concerned that, without her permission, anyone with moderate computer knowledge can find out where she's been. She considers the comings and goings of herself and her family to be personal and sensitive information. She has retained legal counsel Ganapathi and Company of Vancouver and a number of leading experts in digital forensics examination, information security, networking and systems administration, geographic profiling and clinical and forensic psychology. These experts' extensive reports have been filed together with the certification materials.
Digital Forensics Expert Francis Graf examined Ladas's iPhone and desktop computer and found that her location data, going back approximately one year, was easily accessible using free tools readily available on the Internet. Graff's investigation found that iOS4x stores specific location-based data in unencrypted form, including dates and times, associated to geographic location coordinates. That data is copied onto any computer the devices are connected to when they are backed up. Each successive backup file contains new location data for approximately one year prior to the date of that backup, thereby increasing the aggregate location-based data stored in unencrypted form.
Information Security, Networking and Systems Administration expert Eric Smith investigated methods by which the physical location of an iOS4x device could be shared with outside parties, including the Apple Corporation. His extensive report shows for the first time exactly how Apple is aware of the physical location of every device operating iOS4x through a technique known as "wardriving".
The action filed in Supreme Court of British Columbia also includes an extensive report by Geographic Profiler Kim Rossmo, who details how this easily accessible information can be used. Rossmo's report raises questions about the protection of privacy, and the choices people are, or more importantly are not, making in giving up this sensitive information.
Apple Inc. has repeatedly reassured the public that it is "not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so." Those assurances include statements made to the US congress by Apple's Vice President of Software Technology Guy L. "Bud" Tribble on May 10, 2011.
On March 3, 2011, Apple Inc. filed a Patent Application in the United States for what it describes in its application as: "a location aware mobile device can include a baseband processor for communicating with one or more communication networks, such as a cellular network or WiFi network. In some implementations, the baseband processor can collect network information (e.g. transmitter IDs) over time. Upon request by a user or application, the network information can be translated to estimated position coordinates of the location aware device."
Amanda Ladas is an Administrative Assistant working in Vancouver, BC. In December 2010 she and her son Jackson received an iPod Touch as gifts, and in April 2011 she purchased an iPhone 4, all of which use the iOS4 software operating system. When Amanda and her son activated and started using their iPod Touch, they did not consent to having their location-based information tracked, collected and stored. Ladas did not consent to having her information tracked, collected and stored when she purchased and activated her iPhone.
It is estimated that there are between two to seven million users of Apple devices in Canada using the iOS4 operating system, including Ladas and her son.