California Sues Delta Over Mobile App Privacy

12/7/12 11:24AM EST

deltaapp California Sues Delta Over Mobile App PrivacyDelta Airlines became the first company sued by California under terms of the state’s eight-year-old Online Privacy Protection Act. California filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court against the airline Thursday, alleging Atlanta-based Delta violated state law by not warning users of its mobile application “Fly Delta” that the airline collects their sensitive information.

California is the only state with a law requiring companies to notify users of mobile apps when their personal information is being collected and how it is being used. California attorney general Kamala Harris alleges Delta was previously given 30 days to comply with the privacy law on its app, which allows customers to log on to check in for a flight, review reservations, book flights and pay for checked baggage.

According to the lawsuit, the “Fly Delta” site does not include privacy warnings even though it collects vital information such as the customer’s full name, telephone number, email and mailing address, as well more sensitive information like credit card number, geographic location and date of birth. The suit alleges Delta customers are not aware their data is collected or used by the airline.

Harris is seeking an injunction that would bar Delta from further distributing the app until it complies with the privacy policy. Harris is also requesting penalties of as much as $2,500 for each violation. According to the lawsuit, the app has been downloaded millions of times from Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Play.

California law is clear that mobile apps collecting personal information need privacy policies, and that the users of those apps deserve to know what is being done with their personal information,” Harris said in a statement.

Although the Delta case is the first lawsuit in the eight years since California passed the Online Privacy Protection Act, it is certainly not the first action. Harris has previously reached agreements with seven other companies to warn their users about privacy policies before the consumers download mobile apps, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Research In Motion.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black said company policy prohibits him from commenting on pending litigation.

[Image via iTunes]

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