Apple is a filthy AWS, Azure, Google reseller, gripe punters: iPhone giant accused of hiding iCloud's real backend

Breach of contract, false advertising, unfair business practices sueball fired


Apple is being sued for breach of contract, false advertising, and unfair business practices for allegedly reselling Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform services under its iCloud brand – and failing to adequately disclosure that relationship to customers.

The iGiant, which for decades has tried to own its technology stack to avoid dependency on competitors, has been unable or unwilling to make iCloud stand up without support from rival service providers like Amazon, Microsoft and Google, the lawsuit filed on Monday claims.

Since at least 2011, when iCloud replaced MobileMe, Apple has outsourced at least some of iCloud's plumbing to AWS and Azure.

Despite committing $10bn to data center investment over five years in 2018, the company acknowledges in its iOS Security Guide that it stores encrypted file chunks on both Apple and third-party storage services like AWS and Google Cloud.

The lawsuit [PDF], filed in US District Court in San Jose, on behalf of plaintiffs Andrea Williams and James Stewart, claims the iCloud service agreement specifies that Apple provides the cloud storage being purchased.

"Touting itself as the provider of the iCloud service (when, in fact, Apple was merely reselling cloud storage space on cloud facilities of other entities) allowed Apple not only to obtain paid subscriptions of class members who subscribed to iCloud believing that their cloud storage was being provided by Apple, but also allowed Apple to charge a premium for its iCloud service because subscribers placed a value on having the 'Apple' brand as the provider of the storage service for their most sensitive data," the complaint says.

The plaintiffs, it's claimed, would not have chosen to use iCloud had they known they were paying a premium for, and handing their files over to, a third-party service.

The legal filing notes that in mainland China, where Apple is required to use a local third-party to provide cloud storage, the company discloses that fact in its service agreement.

icloud

Apple and Microsoft's odd couple collab on iCloud for Windows is more Hall & Oates than Walter and Jesse

READ MORE

Acknowledging Apple's claim in its iOS Security Guide that the company alone holds the encryption keys for customer data stored with other cloud providers, the complaint insists that Apple's justification for its behavior doesn't legitimize it.

"No iCloud subscriber bargained for or agreed to have Apple turn his or her data – whether encrypted or not – to others for storage," the complaint says. "...The subscribers bargained for, agreed, and paid to have Apple – an entity they trusted – store their data. Instead, without their knowledge or consent, these iCloud subscribers had their data turned over by Apple to third-parties for these third-parties to store the data in a manner completely unknown to the subscribers."

The complaint claims that Apple pays about half a billion a year to Amazon and Microsoft for storing iCloud data but has never justified or publicly explained its practice.

The Register asked Apple to comment but the company's silence continues. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Workers win vote to form first-ever US Apple Store union
    Results set to be ratified by labor board by end of the week

    Workers at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have voted to form a union, making them the first of the iGiant's retail staff to do so in the United States.

    Out of 110 eligible voters, 65 employees voted in support of unionization versus 33 who voted against it. The organizing committee, known as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), has now filed to certify the results with America's National Labor Relations Board. Members joining this first-ever US Apple Store union will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

    "I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory," IAM's international president Robert Martinez Jr said in a statement on Saturday. "They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election."

    Continue reading
  • Azure issues not adequately fixed for months, complain bug hunters
    Redmond kicks off Patch Tuesday with a months-old flaw fix

    Updated Two security vendors – Orca Security and Tenable – have accused Microsoft of unnecessarily putting customers' data and cloud environments at risk by taking far too long to fix critical vulnerabilities in Azure.

    In a blog published today, Orca Security researcher Tzah Pahima claimed it took Microsoft several months to fully resolve a security flaw in Azure's Synapse Analytics that he discovered in January. 

    And in a separate blog published on Monday, Tenable CEO Amit Yoran called out Redmond for its lack of response to – and transparency around – two other vulnerabilities that could be exploited by anyone using Azure Synapse. 

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022