On Tuesday, Apple lost a request to move to private arbitration in a consumer privacy lawsuit related to iMessage and FaceTime. In Manhattan, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield ruled that the Cupertino tech giant must continue fighting the privacy lawsuit in open court and cannot move the suit into private mediation.
Tigran Ohanian and Regge Lopez sued Apple and T-Mobile in a class-action lawsuit last July, alleging that a flaw that existed in Apple’s software system allows SIM cardholders to access another iPhone user’s iMessages and FaceTime calls. The tech giant was accused of deceitful misconduct and the complaint also alleged that T-Mobile’s approach to recycling phone numbers created a breach of privacy for users.
Apple must face privacy lawsuit in open court, Manhattan judge rules
The complaint that Apple is facing alleges that an iPhone bug coupled with the fact that T-Mobile recycled phone numbers created a breach of consumer privacy. The iPhone bug impacted iMessage and FaceTime and cased allowed communications intended for one smartphone user to be routed to another.
“Consumers claim an iPhone operating system flaw, coupled with recycled T-Mobile phone numbers, gave third parties unauthorized access to users’ communications. The breach violates both companies’ promise that iMessage and Facetime features were secure, they said in the complaint.”
Companies usually prefer to handle such cases behind closed doors in private arbitration since it’s quicker, rulings are final with only limited rights to appeal and they have a say in the selection of judges. According to the report, the cases are also dealt with on an individual basis, raising the costs to plaintiffs who can’t share expenses as in class-action cases, where their fees may also be contingent on winning the case.
Judge Schofield said she will make a final ruling on one plaintiff’s claims against T-Mobile once questions over arbitration are resolved. However, the judge rejected a similar request from Apple. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that the judge had, “recognized the significant merit and far-reaching impact of plaintiffs’ claims for a broad class of iPhone users.”