SEOUL, July 14 Apple Inc's Korean unit
has paid compensation to a user of its popular iPhone after
collecting location data without consent, lawyers and court
officials said, the first payout by the U.S. company over these
Apple Korea agreed to pay 1 million won ($946) in
compensation to Kim Hyung-suk, a lawyer, following a court order
in May, two officials at Changwon District Court told Reuters on
Thursday. They declined to be identified because they are not
authorized to speak to the media.
Kim's law firm, Mirae Law, said Apple made payment last last
month. Apple could not be immediately reached for comment in
Mirae Law said it was now preparing a class action lawsuit
against Apple for the unauthorised data collection. A website
for class action sign-up has been set up but was paralyzed due
to heavy traffic. (www.sueapple.co.kr)
Apple released a software update in May to fix a problem
that enabled its mobile devices to collect and store customers'
location data. The revelation that Apple's iPhone collected data
and stored it for up to a year has prompted renewed scrutiny of
the nexus between location and privacy.
U.S. lawmakers have accused the technology industry of
exploiting location data for marketing purposes - a potentially
multibillion-dollar industry -- without getting proper consent
from phone users.
Google Inc's Seoul office was raided in May on
suspicion its mobile advertising unit AdMob had illegally
collected location data without consent, in the latest setback
to the Internet search firm's Korean operations.
Executives of both Apple and Google have said they did not
abuse the information.
Any class action may further pressure Apple in the home
market of its key rival Samsung Electronics .
Samsung's flagship Galaxy S smartphone has emerged as a
major competitor to the iPhone.
The iPhone is sold by top mobile carrier SK Telecom
and second-ranked KT Corp in South
Korea. KT, the major seller of the iPhone, said its iPhone
subscribers reach more than 2.7 million, while SK Telecom
declined to provide any details.
Apple sold a record 18.65 million units of its blockbuster
iPhone globally in the March quarter.
($1 = 1056.800 Korean Won)
(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Anshuman
Daga and Lincoln Feast)