Apple Inc., can breathe a little easier in South Korea following a judge’s favorable ruling in an appeals court on Thursday that said Korean iPhone users could not seek damages from Apple for collecting location information from their iPhones without consent.
The high court in the port city of Busan upheld a lower court’s ruling that had already dismissed a 2011 complaint filed against the Cupertino-based Apple and its local unit by 28,000 people seeking 1 million won (US$879) each in compensation.
The suit claimed not only an invasion of privacy but also emotional distress.
Following Thursday’s dismissal, the court justified its ruling by saying that while Apple did collect data, there was no leakage of information to a third party.
According to the government agency, Apple illegally accumulated iPhone users’ location data –even after users had disabled the iPhone’s location sensors.
According the Yonhap news Agency: “While acknowledging the illegality of Apple’s collection of data, the court said the company does not seem to have had an intention to abuse the information, citing its quick modification of the system when the issue arose.”
The court added that it was difficult to assess the extent to which Apple inflicted emotional distress on the users, and therefore could not award damages for claims.
The suit was originally filed in 2011, just weeks after the Korea Communication Commission (KCC) ordered that Apple to pay fines for violating South Korea’s location information laws that require companies first get the consent of users before tracking their whereabouts.
However, according to the KCC, Apple illegally accumulated iPhone users’ location data –this even after users had disabled the iPhone’s location sensors.
A lawyer representing the suit against Apple told reporters that the remaining plaintiffs would appeal to the Supreme Court. Only 299 out of the original 28,000 people participated in Thursday’s dismissed appeal, with the rest having dropped the suit.