Apple accused of selling iTunes customers’ listening data

“Apple Inc. was sued by customers who claim the company is unlawfully disclosing and selling information about people’s iTunes purchases as well as their personal data, contrary to the company’s promise in advertising that ‘What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone,'” Robert Burnson and Edvard Pettersson report for Bloomberg.

“Three iTunes customers from Rhode Island and Michigan sued Friday in federal court in San Francisco seeking to represent hundreds of thousands of residents of their home states who allegedly had their personal listening information disclosed without their consent,” Burnson and Pettersson report. “‘For example, any person or entity could rent a list with the names and addresses of all unmarried, college-educated women over the age of 70 with a household income of over $80,000 who purchased country music from Apple via its iTunes Store mobile application,’ the customers said. ‘Such a list is available for sale for approximately $136 per thousand customers listed.'”

Burnson and Pettersson report, “They seek $250 for each Rhode Island iTunes customer whose information was disclosed and $5,000 for each one in Michigan, under the states’ respective privacy laws.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Prove it.


  1. If they did, I would like to see them spanked for it. They can’t tout privacy and then turn around and pull this crap. Their deals with media companies have always felt a bit on the slimy side to me – I’m looking at you, Eddie Cue.

  2. I find this hard to believe based on Apple’s strong stance in this area. If true I suspect this is happening because some third party that Apple is involved with has messed up. Obviously the buck stops at Apple and they should be punished if true but this seems rather odd.

    1. AppleInsider provides more detail – including the name of the site that is alleged to have & be selling the data and a separate claim that iOS app developers had access to the data for a minimum of 8 months, probably longer, though an API call.

      I agree with MDN that the claim must be proved, but dismissing the issue with that comment when more info is already available seems like a journalistic lapse.

  3. From Bloomberg news of course. They never miss an opportunity to print a negative story about Apple. And if one is not available, they just make it up! ie. Chinese spy chips – never retracted that story. Shame

  4. Innocent until proven guilty. We can and should all approve of that.
    MDN… should GuitarTuna be proven, can I presided over your newly founded Maccynicnews subsidiary?

          1. You’re a huge bag of excuses aren’t you? What is your excuse for “can I presided” then? Look, it is up to you to READ what you WRITE and correct yourself. Educated people don’t use spellcheck or autocorrect as a crutch or an excuse because, you know, we can write without error after error after error after error. We also don’t immediately resort to name calling.

          2. “we can’t edit”

            So? You can read while you type can’t you? “can I presided” could only be considered a typo by a very poor writer. All you have is excuses for your sloppy, poor writing. It is a poor workman that blames his tools.

            1. I’m a very poor typist, especially on glass on a site with constant ads cycling.
              You however are a pompous twit everywhere.

          3. “especially on glass on a site with constant ads cycling.
            You however are a pompous twit everywhere.”

            More excuses and more name calling. I am also typing on an iPad on the screen keyboard. Funny that I don’t have the same problems.

            1. Dude, it doesn’t bother me that I make typos, it bothers me that you are a coward changing names so that you can’t be called out. Youwer us yer owan!

          4. “it bothers me that you are a coward changing names so that you can’t be called out.”

            That’s rich coming from someone who uses a fake name. Oh but you use the same fake name all the time. Oooookay rolls eyes. Good to know you are bothered though. I’m in your head and under your skin. Pwned.

  5. I really can’t believe that. I’ve been using the iTunes store since it began when I had my first iPod at the turn of the century, and Apple has never developed the slightest clue about my musical taste. Every time I open the store, it presents me Jay Z and Cardi B and Kenny G other crap which resides on alternate planets, and never presents me with the jazz and classical music I prefer. If that’s an algorithm, it’s the weakest one I’ve ever incountered. Lots of luck selling THAT.

  6. Bloomberg has somehow tapped into the Mirror Universe where Apple is evil and Google is righteous.

    Of course the lawsuit won’t result in any settlement for us, because it didn’t happen, and amazingly not in the Mirror Universe either, because over there no one cares.

    1. Bloomberg has tapped into the money universe where negative stories about Apple is proven to drive a LOT of traffic, doesn’t matter if it’s true or not (data center chips from China).

      “Such a list is available”, would have been VERY easy to add “for purchase from Apple”, but they didn’t. They are probably hoping to settle out of court or some other “I got money for doing very little work.”

    2. It does seem unlikely that Apple would have knowingly participated in selling this type of data. It goes against the company culture. But it is possible that a third party might be marketing such data obtained through a security hole in Apple’s software, by misappropriating data provided by Apple, or by using apps or other techniques to collect the data in violation of Apple’s privacy policies. It is even possible that some people authorized collection of this data in return for perks.

      I may be proven wrong, but I do not believe that Apple is knowingly involved in selling customer data of this type. If the data is real, then Apple needs to track down the source, because it makes the company look bad even if it has nothing to do with it.

      1. The purported data being sold is not typically collected by Apple. Therefore the conclusion is that the plaintiff is either lying or mistaken. This is emphasized, given that iTunes is the source of the data.

  7. I want to know what difference there is between Michiganders and Rhode Islanders that makes the privacy of people from Lansing and Detroit worth $5000 while the privacy of people from Woonsocket or Cumberland in Rhode Island only $250? Are the brains in Rhode Island used more than those in Michigan or something, or is the data in the computers/iPhones of Michigan users that much more valuable?

    What’s up with that????

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