On September 2, 2021, Judge White of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted in part and denied in part motion to dismiss filed by Apple to end class action lawsuit brought against it. The lawsuit alleges that Apple unlawfully and without consumers’ consent or knowledge, surreptitiously listens to users’ private conversations through its Siri virtual assistant, and then utilizes the obtained audio for its own commercial purposes.
Judge White sustained plaintiffs’ claims for violation of state and federal privacy laws, including the federal Wiretap Act, California Invasion of Privacy Act, and the California Constitution, as well as for breach of contract and declaratory judgment.
The Court concluded that Plaintiffs sufficiently pled that Siri intercepted and recorded Plaintiffs’ private oral communications where the Plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation of privacy, without their consent. The Court also concluded that the Plaintiffs’ have plausibly alleged that targeted advertising arose from such unconsented interceptions and since the Siri recordings are exclusively in Apple’s possession, it is enough to allege that Apple disseminated such private communications to third parties.
Additionally, the Court rejected Apple’s argument that Apple did not intentionally intercept such communication. The Court found that Apple knew of the accidental triggers and instead of deleting such messages, sent them to contractors to improve Siri’s functioning. The Court also rejected Apple’s argument that Plaintiffs consented to such recordings because Siri alerts users when activated. The Court noted that the Plaintiffs were only able to observe Siri being accidently activated, which does not indicate that the Plaintiffs provided consent to the recordings.
Lowey Dannenberg commenced this litigation in July 2019. Since then, the Plaintiffs have filed two amended complaints and survived two motions to dismiss. The case is Lopez et al. v. Apple Inc., No. 4:19-cv-04577-JSW (N.D. Cal.).
The Court’s opinion can be downloaded here.