For the fourth time in the past two months, Apple has been sued for allegedly violating the privacy of iPad and iPhone users. Like the previous three suits (two of which we discussed in this post), Rodimer v. Apple, Inc. [PDF] alleges that Apple transmitted “personal information,” including Unique Device IDs (“UDIDs”) to application developers, who, in turn, shared the information with mobile advertising networks. The complaint, filed this past Tuesday in California federal court, names a number of application developers–including The New York Times Co., Pandora Media, and National Public Radio–as well as several mobile advertising firms.
Although the 92-page complaint is long on detail, it may come up short at the motion-to-dismiss stage given that it does not appear to allege sufficiently that the defendants’ acts caused any injury to the plaintiffs. The closest the complaint comes to alleging injury is its discussion of the lead plaintiff’s “belief” that after accessing certain applications on his iPhone, the device’s UDID was transmitted to application developers and their advertising affiliates.
The complaint goes on to allege that the lead plaintiff “believes” that the transmission of the UDID “permitted one or more objects within his mobile device” to be used to facilitate the tracking of his online activities and geolocation so that the device could be sent targeted advertisements. It appears that the sole basis for this belief is that the iPhone at some point began to operate “more slowly,” leading the plaintiff to believe that the “Defendants [had] used his bandwith.”
These vague allegations of harm may be insufficient to establish standing to sue in federal court. A recent dismissal [PDF] of a privacy suit by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on standing grounds suggests that plaintiffs alleging the kind of speculative harm that the Rodimer plaintiffs assert may be unable to maintain their suits.