News: Companies to Possibly Pay Out $5.3 Million to iPhone Users in Privacy Lawsuit

Companies to Possibly Pay Out $5.3 Million to iPhone Users in Privacy Lawsuit

It appears a privacy lawsuit that began five years ago is about to come to an end, and you might get some money out of it.

Eight companies—Foodspotting, Foursquare, Gowalla, Instagram, Kik, Path, Twitter, and Yelp—have agreed to a proposed settlement of $5.3 million in a case surrounding a "Find Friends" feature in iOS apps (not to be confused with Apple's "Find My Friends" app, which shows up as "Find Friends" on the home screen) that allowed users to see who on their contact list was also using a respective app, such as Twitter or Instagram.

The case began in 2012 when consumers sued these companies over the "Find Friends" feature because they were not informed that their contact lists would be saved to the servers of each company. The respective companies have argued the app would not function properly without saving users contact lists, but the court ruled against the argument, stating the companies should have been more clear about this function.

If you used one of these iPhone models before, chances are you used one of the apps in question. Image by 246-You/Flickr

Interestingly, both Apple and LinkedIn are among the companies named in the lawsuit, but they are continuing to fight the case while the other entities have finally decided to settle.

If US District Judge Jon Tigar rules in favor of the settlement, users of the aforementioned apps from April 2009 to February 2012 (exact dates for each app can be found on the claim form), will be awarded a fraction of the $5.3 million. Fortune cautions users not get too excited, however, as they predict based on the length of time and the number of users involved, the payout won't be very large.

Still, if you used an app that utilized "Find Friends" in that time frame on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, and the companies involved have it on record that you used one of their apps during the listed times, look out for the email—after all, it's not everyday you get a settlement check, even if it's just a buck or two. Just cash it, and try to forget your contact lists were "borrowed."

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Cover image by Jon Fingas/Flickr

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