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February 05, 2013

Apple Wins Right to Ask Online Customers for Phone Numbers And Addresses

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

When you hear about Apple (News - Alert) going into court, you just sort of assume that it must have something to do with their ongoing patent wars with companies like Samsung (News - Alert).

What you might not expect is that the latest court expedition had to do with whether or not the company could require its customers to give Apple their address and phone numbers when buying goods or services with a credit card. The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Apple could indeed continue with that practice.

The court was split, but in the end the majority of justices said that online purchasing that requires extra information is not violating the customer’s privacy, which was the basis for the argument against Apple. 

This is a slight change from a ruling from 2011, which found that privacy concerns do exist when talking about sales inside a brick and mortar store. The lawsuit was brought against Apple by a customer who downloaded items through iTunes. Online retailers came in with support for Apple in this particular case.

Three dissenting California Supreme Court justices wrote in their argument that the ruling represents "a major win for these sellers, but a major loss for consumers, who in their online activities already face an ever-increasing encroachment upon their privacy." The four justices who ruled in favor said that the accusations were eye-catching, but not persuasive.

It appears that Apple, who has gotten very good news in terms of smartphone sales earlier this month, is protected by the court because the majority believes that online retailers face instances of fraud far more often than brick and mortar establishments. Justice Goodwin Liu said that companies that deal in online purchases need to be given a little more leeway when it comes to protecting themselves.

Edited by Ashley Caputo
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