Calif. court finds for Apple in credit card privacy suit

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Feb 4, 2013 1:47pm EST

SAN FRANCISCO Feb 4 (Reuters) - Apple Inc and other online retailers did not break California law by requiring consumers to provide their address and phone numbers as a condition of accepting credit card payments, the state's high court ruled on Monday.

In a split decision, the California Supreme Court said state privacy protections for credit cards do not apply to online purchases that are downloaded electronically.

The ruling comes after the same court in 2011 said that those privacy protections do apply to brick and mortar retailers, finding that they could not request a customer's ZIP code during a credit card transaction.

Apple was the defendant in the latest lawsuit, brought as a proposed class action by a consumer who purchased downloads from iTunes. Online retailers eBay Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc also filed briefs supporting Apple.

Representatives for the plaintiff and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

Three dissenting California Supreme Court justices argued that the ruling represents "a major win for these sellers, but a major loss for consumers, who in their online activities already face an ever-increasing encroachment upon their privacy."

But the four justices in the majority disagreed. "These ominous assertions, though eye-catching, do not withstand scrutiny," they wrote.

The case in the Supreme Court of California is Apple Inc. vs. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County and David Krescent, S199384.

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