Twitter, Yelp, Path and five other app developers have agreed to pay more than $5 million to resolve a class-action complaint alleging that they wrongly uploaded iPhone users’ address books, according to court papers filed this week.
If accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar, the settlement will resolve a privacy dispute stemming from 2012 revelations about surreptitious address-book uploads. Initially, tech experts accused mobile social networks Path (now Kong Technologies) and Hipster (later acquired and shut down by AOL) of accessing and storing users’ address books without their knowledge.
Security researchers subsequently accused other developers — including Foodspotting, Foursquare Labs, Gowalla, Instagram, Kik Interactive, Twitter and Yelp — of uploading users’ address books. Unlike Path, those other developers reportedly asked people for permission to access their address books, in order to help them connect with friends who also used the service. But Foodspotting, Yelp, Twitter and the others allegedly didn’t say they would keep the data in their servers.
iPhone user Marc Opperman, and other consumers, sued Apple and more than a dozen developers for allegedly violating users’ privacy.
Lawyers for all sides said in January that they had reached an agreement, but the details weren’t unveiled until this week. The deal requires the app developers to create a $5.3 million settlement fund. iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users who downloaded one or more of the eight apps, and also used a find-friends feature before 2012, can submit claims for a pro rated portion of the fund.
The deal resolves some of the claims against Apple, but not allegations that the company misled users with ads touting security features that were supposed to protect users’ data. Apple and the consumers are still battling over whether they will be able to proceed with a class-action over those false advertising claims.