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Apple makes first pay-out to iPhone tracking victim

US technology giant Apple announced that it had made its first compensation payment in South Korea on Thursday, over a feature on its iPhone that can track the location of users.

Apple Korea confirmed it had paid one million won (US$950) to Kim Hyung-Suk, complying with a compensation order from a court in the southern city of Changwon.

Kim, a 36-year-old lawyer, filed the suit on April 26. He said the smartphone’s location recording infringed on his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom and caused psychological stress.

He demanded one million won, and the court ordered Apple to pay the sum for violating his privacy.

Asked if Apple Korea paid the sum to Kim, Cho Yoon-Ju from the firm’s public relations department said: “Yes, it was paid in late June”.

Asked if Apple was objecting to the court order, she said “no” but declined further comment.

The settlement was expected to trigger an array of similar lawsuits since South Korea has about three million iPhone users.

Kim vowed to invite other iPhone users to lodge a joint suit against Apple.

“Amassing location data without iPhone users’ consent constitutes an apparent legal violation”, Kim was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.

About 300 people have signed up to join Kim’s campaign so far through a website that he opened Thursday, Yonhap said.

On April 29 other iPhone users in South Korea filed a joint suit against Apple, following claims that the US company traced and stored geographical data from its mobile device users in countries including France and Germany.

British security researchers have said the position-logging feature was contained in iOS 4, the operating system for the iPhone and iPad.

They said iOS 4-equipped iPhones and iPads store latitude and longitude coordinates along with a time stamp, probably through cell-tower triangulation.

The company in May released updated software for iPhones to fix “bugs” that resulted in location data being unencrypted and stored for up to a year. — AFP