A non-profit group filed two complaints against Apple regarding an alleged tracking code active in iPhones, said CNBC. These were filed by Austrian data privacy activist Max Schrems, the leader of two similar successful complaints against Facebook.
Noyb, the non-profit campaign group, is complaining about Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which is included in iPhones to better ad targeting for advertisers. The complaints were filed in Germany and Spain.
The group asserts that IDFA violates user data privacy laws. According to Noyb data protection lawyer Stefano Rosetti, “The IDFA is placed into the device without the user’s consent.”
“We find that this constitutes a violation of the so-called ‘cookie law’… which prohibits the installation of tracker of any sort without the user consent,” Rosetti added.
In response to the complaints, Apple said that its use of the IDFA is in accordance with European privacy laws. The company added that the release of the iOS 14 allowed users to have “greater control” over advertisement-related tracking.
Spain’s AEPD, the country’s info watchdog has received the complaint and will investigate the matter, according to Tech Crunch.
An Apple spokesperson said, “The claims made against Apple in this complaint are factually inaccurate and we look forward to making that clear to privacy regulators should they examine the complaint.”
Moreover, the spokesperson clarified that the company does not access the IDFA and information is gathered for any use.
Tech Crunch also received a comment from the firm, stating that “the claims made against Apple in this complaint are factually inaccurate.”
In the past, the tech giant has taken steps to allow users to opt-out of personalized advertising through phone settings. It was also planning to “require app developers on its iOS mobile operating system to ask users if they want to opt-in to such tracking,” as per CNBC.
This plan did not push through this day and was moved to early 2021 as this measure could impact Facebook and mobile advertisers.
Meanwhile, Noyb argues that the issue is not whether or not the company accesses the tracker. Instead, the point of the complaint is the existence of the tracker.
The campaign group also explained that the complaints are not based on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which Apple claims to comply with. This law lets authorities fine companies significantly.
Because of this, German and Spanish info protection agencies can directly impose fines on Apple without the need to coordinate with other EU authorities.