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More than 27,000 S. Korean users join class-action suit against Apple

All Headlines 16:58 August 01, 2011

CHANGWON, South Korea, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- More than 27,000 iPhone users in South Korea have paid to join a class-action suit against the Korean unit of the U.S. electronics giant Apple Inc., claiming that Apple breached their privacy by tracking and storing their location, a law firm engaged in the case said Monday.

The people responded to Miraelaw's appeal for participation in the class-action suit from July 15 till July 31 after its lawyer Kim Hyung-suk, an iPhone user, received 1 million won (US$950) in the first court-ordered compensation from Apple Korea over its privacy violations, according to the law firm.

The class-action suit will likely seek a combined compensation of 27 billion won, or 1 million won to each of the complaints, the firm said.

The Changwon-based firm also said it will lodge the suit against Apple Korea in early or mid August either with the Changwon District Court or the Seoul Central District Court.

The firm will also consider diverting the suit to Apple's U.S. headquarters, given that it is the manufacturer of the location-tracking mobile phone.

"Apple Korea has the possibility of avoiding its responsibility as it is a mere sales unit of Apple headquarters," Lee Jae-cheol, a Miraelaw attorney, said. "We are in discussions on whether the lawsuit should cover Apple's U.S. head office."

The number of iPhone users who joined the planned class-action suit represents less than 1 percent of the total 3 million iPhone units sold locally.

The fewer-than-expected number of users was mainly the result of the low probability that the participants would win massive compensation from a conglomerate, the law firm noted.

Kim lodged his suit against Apple on April 26, arguing the smartphone's location recording infringed on his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom and caused psychological stress.

The Changwon district court delivered the compensation order to Apple, which made its first-ever local payout as it has been pounded by complaints about privacy-infringement across the globe after two computer programmers released a report in late April arguing that the phone's operating system is logging latitude and longitude coordinates and the time a user visits a location.

pbr@yna.co.kr
(END)

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