Earlier this year consumers discovered that Apple’s popular iPhones were storing large amounts of GPS coordinates

for each iPhone for a period of up to one year. Researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden used a Mac app to reveal GPS coordinates that showed nearly everywhere a user had been for the last year, although there was no direct way to access the data from an iPhone itself without hacking the device. Nonetheless, the discovery created a lot of controversy along with accusations that Apple was secretly tracking iPhone users’ locations. The issue caused US Sen. Al Franken to ask Apple about the data collection because he noted that “anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of the user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken over the past months or even a year.” The concerns about user privacy spread everywhere Apple’s iPhone is popular and led to international investigations by the governments of France, Germany, Italy, and South Korea. Apple explained to Congress that the location data collected only represented the GPS locations of nearby cell towers and WiFi base stations used to improve GPS accuracy and speed. Apple maintained that it was not tracking iPhone user and that the collection of cell tower location information is anonymous and encrypted. Apple did admit to bugs in the cache of locations and that locations were being downloaded even when location services were turned off. A later Apple update claimed to have fixed the bugs by limiting the size of the cached information, encrypting it on the device, and deletes the cached location data when location services are turned off. However, the update was a little late and Apple already had trouble brewing in South Korea. The Korea Communications Commission fined Apple $2,800 for collecting the location data even when location services were turned off. Next, one South Korean lawyer took Apple to court over the issue as well. Attorney Kim Hyung-suk said that the methods of data collection and storage prior to the update had violated Korean privacy laws. As a result, Apple was ordered to pay $933 to Kim Hyung-suk’s “Mirae Law” law firm. Although $933 doesn’t seem like much of a fine for a global company like Apple, when you multiply that figure several thousand times, it becomes more significant. After winning the first judgment against Apple in the South Korean courts, Mirae Law began recruiting thousands of plaintiffs for a class action suit against Apple by utilizing a website that stated, “Finally, the real action against Apple. Now available here.” After Mirae Law signed up 27,000 plaintiffs the lawsuit was filed in Changwon. Now, Mirae Law is seeking the same award that Attorney Kim Hyung-suk had received earlier in the year, for each of the 27,000 plaintiffs. The total liability for Apple now totals about $25 million in the South Korean courts and may have to face similar class action complaints in the US. Now that two Florida residents have filed a lawsuit over privacy invasion and fraud due to Apple secretly recording iPhone user locations.

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