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$5 Million Lawsuit Filed over Apple’s Default-On Wi-Fi Assist Feature

On Friday Apple Insider reported that Apple has been named the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed in the San Jose U.S District Court over a feature called Wi-Fi Assist.

The feature allows iPhones to use cellular data when Wi-Fi signals are weak, creating a smoother web experience at the cost of users’ data allowances. The plaintiffs, William and Susanne Phillips of California, allege that Apple never properly explained the feature, causing unanticipated data overages. They accusse Apple of violating California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition laws, and of negligent misrepresentation.

While Apple later clarified the issue, Apple Insider reports that the suit reads:

Defendant’s above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur. Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data. Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.

The couple alleges that after upgrading their iPhone 5s to iOS 9 they were charged for data overuse. While not specific about the amount, since it is a class action and therefore filed “individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated,” the “overall amount in controversy exceeds” 5$ million dollars.

To turn off Wi-Fi Assist, (and save your data) go to ‘Cellular’ in the ‘Settings’ menu, scroll down to the bottom of the menu, and switch it off. You can also toggle off the data on any other apps while you’re in there.

Apple (APPL) will report fourth fiscal quarter earnings after hours on Tuesday.

Follow Will Ross on Twitter @SawmillLoris.

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