Cupertino, Calif. — Apple Inc.’s South Korean unit was fined $2,855 today by the country’s communications regulator after tracking data from users without proper authorization.

This is the first time the technology giant has been fined by a company over the location data capabilities that sparked controversy around the world, so the penalty is significant despite being financially trivial.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) also ordered that the iPhone and iPad maker encrypt location data stored in smartphones. Apple Korea’s punishment is less severe, however, than what the KCC could have ordered, penalties including business suspension or even being fined 3 percent of its related profits, Reuters reported.

At issue was whether Apple devices tracked their owner’s location when the owner did not consent to such tracking. “Apple collects the location information covertly, surreptitiously and in violations of law,” the case documents said.

“Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so,” said Steve Park, a spokesman for Apple Korea.

The case could serve as precedent to a string of payouts after the Korea Herald reported that law firm Miraelaw will be launching a class-action lawsuit against Apple on the grounds that it violated the country’s privacy laws. Nearly 28,000 Koreans have signed up to be part of the suit, paving the way for a legal battle that may cost Apple as much as 27 billion won ($25.5 million).

Related Links: (Reuters) (Korea Herald)