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Apple makes first payout in S. Korea over user location tracking
CHANGWON, South Korea, July 14 (Yonhap) -- The local unit of Apple Inc. paid its first ever compensation in South Korea to an iPhone user over a controversial function that tracks users' locations, a regional court said on Thursday.

   In late June, Apple Korea paid 1 million won (US$946.5) in compensation to Kim Hyung-suk, a 36-year old attorney and iPhone user. Kim asked the Changwon District Court to order the global tech giant to pay the sum as compensation for violating his privacy through the hit smartphone's movement-tracking function, according to the court.

   Kim lodged the suit against Apple on April 26, arguing the smartphone's location recording infringed on his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom and caused psychological stress. He demanded the 1 million won to compensate for the company violating his privacy during his five-month use of the smartphone, according to the regional court.

   Apple Korea did not raise an objection to the court's initial compensation order during the two-week period given to challenge the decision, an action seen as the firm's admission of the validity of the privacy dispute.

   "Apple Korea did not dispute Kim's argument at all," a court official said. "That can be interpreted as its admission of the complaint's claim that iPhone's location tracking caused psychological harm," he said.

   The latest court decision and Apple's first ever compensation settlement in the country are expected to trigger an array of similar lawsuits against the Cupertino, California-based company down the road.

   A class-action suit by 29 iPhone users was filed against the electronics maker in late April in Seoul over similar complaints. South Korea has about 3 million users of the globally-popular gadget.

   The recent local payout came as Apple has been pounded by complaints about privacy-infringement across the globe after two computer programmers released a report in late April arguing the phone's operating system is logging latitude and longitude coordinates along with the time a spot is visited.

   pbr@yna.co.kr
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