Judge orders Apple to reveal app review process

By , Mar 8, 2013

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Are reviewers of entries to Apple’s App Store being threatened with death? That is the implication lawyers for the iPhone maker gave a California federal court earlier this week.

Despite the allegation, a judge overseeing a privacy lawsuit against Apple ordered the company to reveal how it reviews submitted apps, as well as condemned a three-month wait for internal documents.

Today is the deadline for Apple to turn over to U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal its process for gathering documents it must submit to plaintiffs. Attorneys for the plaintiffs charge the firm with collecting location data of iPhone owners without their permission. Earlier this week, Grewal issued the order, writing he cannot rely on Apple to turn over documents first requested in November 2012…

“Luckily for the plaintiffs, Apple has provided more than enough evidence itself to suggest to the court that it has not fully complied with the court’s order,” Grewal ruled, according to Bloomberg.

Apple claims it and its customers could be harmed if some documentation were “inadvertently relased to the public or fell into the wrong hands.” Tuesday, Apple lawyer Ashlie Beringer told Grewal the company mistakenly failed to turn over emails from the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as well as from other executives.

Apple’s senior litigator Lynn Miller told the court “inadvertence” had caused the company to not submit six documents that should have been revealed. Ironically, those documents were attached to Apple’s request to dismiss the case against it, arguing the plaintiffs could not show any iPhone owner had been harmed.

iPhone 5 (App Store teaser, hunderds of thousands of endless possibilities)

As part of Grewal’s order that Apple must reveal how it determines which documents are relevant in legal cases, the Judge also ordered the App Store owner to show plaintiffs how apps are reviewed. Apple had heavily redacted that information, arguing it’s disclosure could reveal trade secrets, as well as potentially put the lives of app reviewers at risk.

In February, Phillip Shoemaker, the App Review Director at Apple, told the court disclosing “the review process would jeopardize Apple and ‘create real risk'” to consumers, Bloomberg reports.

Shoemaker said one developer learned the ID of an app reviewer, followed the Apple employee to an overseas conference and “implied that he would kill the reviewer” when contact was made.

Grewal dismissed such potential risks, noting the identity of two other Apple app reviewers had been disclosed in past lawsuits without any harm coming to pass. The judge, however, did permit Apple to submit the app review process under an “attorneys-eyes-only” restriction, the Friday report notes.

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  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    Seriously? The review process is public…almost since the day one.

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Uhm, aint the review process simply checking for malicious/unauthorized attempts by the app? They probably have a computer simulating every human interaction.

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      No. Theres some rules (like using third party API’s…not doing what describes…etc..) But they are pretty simple and very consistent. All information available here: developer .apple.com/appstore/guidelines.html

      And it’s reviewed by developers inside Apple, with the help of some software too. That’s why it takes weeks for approval.

  • http://twitter.com/jimbohurt James

    Guys, obviously the ENTIRE review process hasn’t been revealed if a court is forcing them to reveal it and even apple said it contains ‘trade secrets’ It sounds to me that the review process has more to it than what we all know.

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    What is it with these judges lately forcing Apple to reveal their secrets and processes!??