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California high court finds in favour of Apple in credit card privacy suit

A California court has ruled that Apple and other online retailers did not break privacy laws by requiring customers paying by credit card to provide personal details such as their addresses and phone numbers.

Purchases made online are exempt from state and federal privacy protections tied to credit cards, the California Supreme Court found. In 2011, the same high court ruled that it was against the law for brick-and-mortar retailers to request the postal codes of customers paying by credit cards.

This latest suit, proposed as a class action, was filed against Apple by a customer who made iTunes purchases.

The ruling was the result of a split decision, in which the four judges in the majority argued that online retailers require more identification details than brick-and-mortar shops in order to protect themselves and customers against fraud.

"Unlike a brick-and-mortar retailer, an online retailer cannot visually inspect the credit card, the signature on the back of the card, or the customer's photo identification," wrote Justice Goodwin Liu.

But the three justices in the minority argued that the decision is "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."