Around 26,000 iPhone users in Korea filed a class action lawsuit against Apple at a district court in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province on Wednesday, accusing the company of invasion of privacy with a secret program that tracks and stores users' locations.
Mirae Law, a law firm based in Changwon that has been gathering plaintiffs for the lawsuit, said 26,691 people took part, with each user demanding W1 million in damages (US$1=W1,072).
More people are expected to join, including around 900 minors who need their parents' consent to take legal action. The number amounts to slightly less than 1 percent of all iPhone users in Korea. They claim Apple invaded their privacy by gathering information on their whereabouts without their consent.
Mirae Law feels it has the upper hand in the case after the Korea Communications Commission slapped Apple Korea with a W3 million fine for violating domestic laws against gathering information about a person's location and ordered to delete the location tracking information it stored. But some say the measure was merely an administrative sanction and cannot be viewed as directly relevant to a civil suit.
Both Apple Korea and U.S. headquarters appear to be gearing up to put up a fight. "We need to send documents related to the case to Apple's headquarters in the U.S. and the company needs time to look them over, so it will take considerable time before the actual trial begins," an official at Changwon district court said.
Mirae Law began recruiting plaintiffs for the lawsuit and opened a website for that purpose after one of its lawyers, Kim Hyeong-seok (36), won W1 million in compensation from Apple in the Changwon district court.