apple store

Three men from Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against Apple this week. Adam Christensen, Jeffrey Scolnick and William Farrell claim that they were unlawfully forced to enter their zip code while making purchases at the company’s New England retail stores.

The suit contents that this practice is illegal under the Massachusetts Unfair Trade Practices Act, which says you can’t compel customers to provide identifiable information. And the men say that Apple isn’t just collecting info, it’s also selling it to third parties…

Here’s the part of Apple’s privacy policy that the suit takes issue with:

“At times Apple may make certain personal information available to strategic partners that work with Apple to provide products and services, or that help Apple market to customers.”

And here’s an excerpt from the plaintiffs’ filing (via Patently Apple):

“First, Plaintiffs and the Class have been injured because they have received unwanted marketing materials from Apple as a result of having provided their zip codes when using credit cards at Apple. Second, Plaintiffs and the Class have been injured by Apple’s sale of Plaintiffs’ and the Class’ PII to third-parties, which was collected by Apple in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93 § 105(c). And third, Plaintiffs and the Class have been injured because Apple misappropriated their economically valuable PII [Personally Identifiable Information] without consideration.”

The group is looking to make this a class action suit, and it wants Apple to pay damages of up to $75 per violation (with interest), lawyer fees, and “other relief.” The men are also seeking an injunction that would force Apple to stop collection zip codes in their state.

For me, this just sounds like a couple guys looking to cash in on a technicality. Unless I’m misunderstanding something here, I don’t see what the big deal is. I have to enter my zip code all the time when making credit purchases, and a lawsuit never crossed my mind.

What do you make of all of this?

  • markbyrn

    actually I’ve been asked for my info even when paying cash – I think they have a legit case.

    • Antzboogie


  • From_Gotham

    Everywhere you go, stores always ask for your zip code and/or your email address. No one is forcing anyone to give up that information; you simply have to just deny it and say “no.”

    • Coleman Lee

      But if you say “no”, I believe they have the right to deny service as well.

      • POINTEDhosh

        Inaccurate. Apple doesn’t care about your zip code. You really think they’re going to deny a sale for that?

    • Here in my country every market asks us our zip code.
      I think it’s only for statistics purposes. Because it’s the only thing they ask even when we pay with cash without giving any other detail about us.

  • How can a zip code be considered “Personally Identifiable Information”?

    I can tell you my zip code, but guess what, 56,000 other people share the same zip. Good luck to identify me

    • mordechai eliyahu

      Not if i Google you name (which everyone knows) and i Google your zip code im sure it will be very easy to find out your exact address. Im sure white pages has your address. Sebastien, its the 21st century everything is online

    • Jonathan

      Just knowing their city/zip code and name I found a lot of information about someone, including phone number, address, emails, previous address in another state, and family names. If I knew your zip code, and Sebastien Page is in fact your real name, I could probably find stuff about you.

  • Fahad

    It’s business. Corporations need to know what area or regions buy which of their products to better tailor their stores and items.

    • Kurt

      So store location is important, not customers home location

      • Edoc

        That’s why they don’t ask for your address, just your zip code, this is
        completely common in the whole world, hell, I believe they alredy used
        to ask it 15 years ago here in Spain.

      • Kurt

        I lived in Spain and never was asked for a zip code. This is new I guess. If the store is selling out of product A, buy more of product A to stock the stores, no need to know where customers live. Some people like their privacy, some don’t. I like it.

      • Edoc

        Mediamark, Decatlón, Carrefour.. every big shop has always asked this kind of information for market study, ur second line is completely non sense.. you don’t seem to understand what a market study is nor means, its the basics of basics, they need to know what parts of the city or the country has less customers, so that they can focus their ads in that part of the city/country and improve their sales. Zip codes are not personal, and have only use for the store itself. When they start asking for real information, like address or names, then go ahead and rage.. but a useless zip code? Please, use some common sense.

  • iOops

    When companies have both credit cards, and zip codes, they can match the two, and then use a national database of addresses to gain your home address which they sell to 3rd parties. This is a horrible marketing act, and one reason you should never give your zip code when asked – especially when using credit cards. It is not against the law in many states, but it is also your right to decline from providing this information.

  • 3l Principe

    That is so typical Will Ferrel..

  • icezar

    That’s a strange one. Sharing with third parties is many times necessary for processing financial reports and warranty in Europe. I think they’re just trying to make a buck. Google takes all your data and sells it to millions of third parties and no one seems to mind.

    • Raashid

      No one seems to mind? You’re not everyone dude, millions mind what Google does with their data, and that’s why many don’t puts real info (names, addresses, etc) in google’s hands.

      • icezar

        You got it all wrong. What I meant to say was that no one starts an action suit against Google. I gave up on all of Google’s services because I had enough of their shit (why the hell would I be on an Apple specific blog?). I have no app from Google installed on my iPhone and the default search engine is bing (because, well, there’s none closer to Google).

      • Raashid

        “What I meant to say was that no one starts an action suit against Google”

        Oh, you mean like these (http://bit ly/1cGajfB) recent cases? Must have been Google’s evil twin they were suing…

      • Edoc

        it never requirered personal info, you could always use a second profile within your own account with an alias, the option was there all along..

      • Raashid

        And what exactly is the first profile for? I only need to know you once to know you….

      • Edoc

        Your alias wont be publicy linked to your acc, you’ll be completely annonymous if thats ur wisg

      • Raashid

        Won’t be “Publicly linked”? Through what is it “privately linked”? You may be anonymous to other internet users, but you’re not anonymous to Google (the main privacy invader) when your alias is “privately” linked to your actual profile through their servers…

  • @dongiuj

    And I hope it becomes a world policy for companies to stop selling people’s information to feed their bank accounts.
    If information is to be sold then companies should first, personally face to face, ask the customer if he/she is willing to sell it, giving full details of what information exactly, is being sold, to which company/ies, what those companies will do with our information and secondly, the CUSTOMER should receive most of that money, if not all of it.
    That’s just my opinion of course.

    • Edoc

      zip codes are not personal information, nor are they sold.. they are used by the company in studing their market and improving their sales, there is no other real use for zip codes..

      • @dongiuj

        Companies never used to ask for any address information, which is classed as personal information, when purchasing something that REALLY isn’t required. How did those companies do their marketing research in those days without requiring ANY personal information?
        Besides, a post code (zip code) is part of a person’s address which makes it personal. Getting back to the main point of this article that information is being sold which, in my original comment, it’s just my opinion that we should be PERSONALLY confronted by any company wishing to make a quick buck on any of OUR information contained in OUR address. Any information in OUR address is classed as personal information, is it not? I know it’s personal to me.

      • Edoc

        they don’t ask for your address, they just ask for zip codes, zip codes are used to study the market and understand where in the city and in the country the store needs to focus their ads. Zip codes on their own are hardly personal information, they don’t have your address nor ur name nor anything more than a bloody zip code.. and WHO THE HELL WOULD BUY THEM? it only has use for that shop… use that head a little before you go around babbling just because some random retards said something completely stupid.

  • Julio César

    I think that its just some people trying to make some money. When using a credit card to make a purchase, its common to be asked for a zip code or even your name. Its men’t to verify that the card isn’t stolen. However, if your told to give that info when paying in cash or even a debt card, then you can suspect something