Apple denied arbitration in privacy lawsuit

Arbitration is a much more favorable way of settling cases for large companies.

What you need to know

  • A judge has said Apple must fight a legal battle over iMessage and Facetime privacy in court.
  • Consumers suing Apple and T-Mobile say third parties had unauthorized access to user communications.
  • It is alleged the breach undermines Apple’s promises about the security of iMessage and Facetime.

A New York Judge has ruled Apple must fight a legal battle over the privacy of FaceTime and iMessage in court rather than have the case go to arbitration.

From Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. must continue fighting a consumer privacy lawsuit in open court and can’t move it behind the closed doors of private arbitration, a judge ruled, turning aside a request from the tech giant.

As the report notes, arbitration is favored by companies because it is quicker, and because they have a “say in the selection of judges”, as well as there being limited rights to appeal decisions and disadvantaging plaintiffs who could face higher legal fees. The case revolves around accusations leveled at both Apple and T-Mobile:

U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield in New York on Tuesday rejected Apple’s and co-defendant T-Mobile USA Inc.’s argument that provisions in T-Mobile’s terms and conditions require consumer disputes to be arbitrated.
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.

A final ruling is expected on one of the claims made against T-Mobile once questions over arbitration are resolved, but meantime rejected a similar request from Apple. Lawyers for the plaintiffs celebrated the judgment, stating the judge had “”recognized the significant merit and far-reaching impact of plaintiffs’ claims for a broad class of iPhone users.”

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