Intrusive mobile application class action certified in Québec

16 Jul

On June 27, the Superior Court of Québec certified a class action about the alleged intrusive nature of free applications offered through Apple’s “App Store.”

The petitioner alleges that Apple breached various Québec statutes by failing to inform users that free applications would facilitate the collection and use of their personal information, including their “geolocation.” The petitioner also claims that individuals were harmed (a) by the loss of computing resources and (b) by being led to overpay for their Apple devices, such devices being “inextricably linked” to undesirable characteristics associated with free applications distributed through the App Store. The petitioner asked the Court to grant certification so he could prosecute Apple on on behalf of all residents in Canada who downloaded free applications from December 1, 2008 to present.

Apple attacked the action’s suitability for certification on a number of bases. Most fundamentally, it complained that the action provided for an “infinite variety of classes” – for example (and at the least), classes of individuals who were exposed to applications with different information-gathering characteristics. Nonetheless, the Court granted certification of a Québec only class. Its analysis is very forgiving, especially in addressing Apple’s (very valid) concerns about the individualized nature of a consent dispute, which the Court dismissed as follows:

In the Court’s view, all of the Respondents’ arguments regarding the consent or lack thereof, the voluntary provision of information by Class Members and other similar elements that distinguish Class Members between them can be raised by them in their defence or alternatively when dealing with the « lien de causalité ».

Hat tip to BLG and its privacy law blog for this post.

Albilia c Apple Inc, 2013 QCCS 2805 (CanLII).

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