More than 27,800 Koreans have signed up to file a class action lawsuit against Apple Korea for breach of privacy to pave the way for a legal battle that may cost the company as much as 27 billion won ($25.5 million).
Miraelaw law firm, which will be representing the plaintiffs, said the official figure as of midnight, July 31 stood at 27,802.
When considering that there are about 3 million iPhone users in Korea, about 1 percent of them have participated to file the class action suit.
If the plaintiffs are victorious, Apple Korea will have to fork over up to 27 billion won ($25.5 million) as the law firm plans to seek 1 million of compensation for every individual who participated in the suit.
Miraelaw said it plans to file the suit against Apple Korea by the middle of this month at the latest. The firm is also considering sending lawyers to Apple Inc.’s headquarters in California.
A lawyer of Miraelaw on June 15 became the first Korean to win a ruling against Apple when the Changwon District Court ordered the electronics company to pay him 1 million won ($925) for collecting his location log without consent.
Apple paid Kim the money, but it now will have more to pay due to the ensuing threat of a class action suit.
The problem of location information first came to light earlier this year when computer expert Alasdair Allan revealed that iPhone keeps track of where the user goes and saves the related details in servers to be stored for up to a year or more.
Miraelaw claims that this violates domestic laws on privacy.
Industry watchers added that the overwhelming enthusiasm for pursuing the class action suit ― as witnessed when the sign-up website crashed several times due to the number of visitors ― was not only about the location issue, but the overall sense of discontent Korean users have toward Apple.
Even though there are more than 3 million iPhone users, Apple does not operate direct, off-line stores here.
The company also faces complaints from users who complain of frequent glitches and failures in their iPhones and have had to replace them multiple times with refurbished ones.
Many websites devoted to making their case against Apple for these problems have been set up in Korea since the iPhones first debuted here in late 2009.
By Kim Ji-hyun (email@example.com)