Apple is preparing to pay $14.8 million as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement that alleged the company stored iCloud subscribers’ data on third-party servers without informing them.
The free version of Apple iCloud comes with 5GB of storage, but the additional space requires a paid subscription to iCloud Plus. The plaintiffs in the Williams v. Apple that Apple does not mention external servers in its marketing materials or its terms and conditions. (The current iCloud client agreement does not refer to third-party servers.)
Although Apple did not admit any wrongdoing, the company agreed to the settlement in January. A final hearing is scheduled for August 4, but the May 23 deadline for asking to be excluded from the settlement — and to reserve your right to sue Apple — is fast approaching.
Here’s what you need to know about the Apple iCloud settlement, including how to find out if you qualify, how you will be paid and how much you can expect to get.
What is Apple accused of?
Prosecutors in Williams v. Apple allege that the company failed to store customer data on its own servers. Instead, according to court filings, the company distributed data between third-party cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft’s Azure platform — a violation of Apple’s iCloud contract.
The plaintiffs claim that Apple “lacks the necessary infrastructure” to operate iCloud and misrepresents the nature of its service, “merely reselling cloud storage space on cloud facilities to other entities.”
Customers wouldn’t have paid for the subscription if they knew Apple doesn’t provide storage directly, as they claim, or they had expected to pay much less. The alleged misrepresentation allowed Apple “to charge a premium to its iCloud service because subscribers put a value on owning the ‘Apple’ brand as a storage service provider,” according to the lawsuit.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Who qualifies to be part of an iCloud settlement?
The settlement includes US residents who paid for an iCloud Plus subscription at any time between September 16, 2015 and January 31, 2016, and had a US mailing address associated with their account.
How do I find out if I am eligible for an iCloud settlement?
You don’t really have to do anything. As long as the email you used to sign up for iCloud Plus storage is still active, you should receive a notification that you are an eligible recipient, or a “Class Member.”
How much can I receive in an iCloud settlement?
The exact amount of individual payments depends on the amount of storage you paid for, the duration of your subscription and the total number of people involved in the claim.
Don’t expect to retire when you pay, though: Between 2015 and 2016, an iCloud subscription ranged from 99 cents for 50 GB of cloud space to 200 GB for $2.99 to $9.99 for 1 TB of space.
In 2018, CNBC reported that there are 170 million paid iCloud Plus subscribers globally, so individual payments could run into a few dollars.
How will I pay if I qualify?
Class members will receive payment automatically. If you still have a monthly subscription to iCloud Plus, your payments will appear as a credit to your Apple account.
If you no longer have a monthly iCloud subscription, you will receive a physical check in the mail. Class members can also request their payments through a wire transfer directly to their bank account.
What is the deadline to withdraw from the settlement?
If you want to retain the right to be part of another lawsuit against Apple over its iCloud Plus subscription service, you have until May 23, 2022, to request that you be excluded from the separation settlement.
But if you do, you give up the right to get a payment if that settlement is approved.
You can also object to the settlement by writing to the court by May 23. If the settlement is approved by the court, you may still be able to receive a class payment.
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