European privacy advocates file complaint against Apple's ad-tracking system

nanoguy

Posts: 610   +8
Staff member
In brief: In the EU, privacy advocates are accusing Apple of violating European privacy law through the implicit use of a tracking code on users' iPhones without their consent. The company naturally disagrees and promises to offer regulators all the explanations they need on how it works.

Apple is under fire by privacy advocates in the EU who previously targeted Facebook for not abiding the European Union's General Data Privacy Regulation, all while lamenting the Irish Data Protection Commission's severe lack of funding that has slowed investigations to a crawl.

Austrian activist Max Schrems and his non-profit group NOYB (None of Your Business) recently filed two complaints to authorities in Spain and Germany accusing Apple of breaching European privacy law. Specifically, they allege the company has been tracking iPhone users for advertising purposes unlawfully as it doesn't ask for explicit consent from users.

The complaint refers to Apple's Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), which is stored on a user's device and allows the company and third parties to track their online behavior and consumption preferences. Schrems essentially argues that these codes that Apple uses are comparable to cookies, which require consent by the user under EU privacy legislation.

Some of you may be familiar with Apple's plan to bolster privacy in iOS 14 by using a new transparency feature that works very much like "food nutrition labels." The announcement caused panic among advertisers as it hindered their ability to provide targeted ads, so Apple agreed to delay the feature, which will goes into effect starting December 8.

On Apple's IDFA, NOYB notes that "just like a license plate, this unique string of numbers and characters allows Apple and other third parties to identify users across applications and even connect online and mobile behavior ('cross-device tracking')." In the complaint, NOYB explained that Apple shouldn't be allowed to create this tracker in the first place, as a smartphone tends to be a person's most intimate device.

In a statement, Apple said the claims are "factually inaccurate, and we look forward to making that clear to privacy regulators should they examine the complaint. Apple does not access or use the IDFA on a user's device for any purpose. Our aim is always to protect the privacy of our users, and our latest software release, iOS 14, is giving users even greater control over whether or not they want to allow apps to track them by linking their information with data from third parties for the purpose of advertising, or sharing their information with data brokers. Our practices comply with European law and support and advance the aims of the GDPR and the e-Privacy Directive, which is to give people full control over their data."

Permalink to story.

 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 332   +401
This is insane, watch this:

I would love for someone at techspot to do a follow-up on it.
I don't know much about Macs because I don't use them, but I am familiar with my iPhone. Apple literally makes all the analytics they collect from iPhones available for viewing in the Settings app. And right next to viewing any or all of that data, you have the option to disable it. They aren't going through any third parties for this either lol. There is the option to share this data with third-parties there too (app developers) but it's not shared if analytics are disabled.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bmadd105

Puiu

Posts: 4,136   +2,743
TechSpot Elite
I don't know much about Macs because I don't use them, but I am familiar with my iPhone. Apple literally makes all the analytics they collect from iPhones available for viewing in the Settings app. And right next to viewing any or all of that data, you have the option to disable it. They aren't going through any third parties for this either lol. There is the option to share this data with third-parties there too (app developers) but it's not shared if analytics are disabled.
This doesn't seem to be iOS related, but you may never know unless someone does a second investigation. So far this seems to be true for MacOS.

EDIT: according to Apple, they are only doing it to check for malware in the apps and that they will let users opt out in a future update --> this looks very bad for them
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: m4a4

Wasteak

Posts: 26   +18
What's very alarming is the amount of people I saw on internet or irl saying that apple was caring more about your privacy than google for example.
That means that their marketing based on brain washing works, and that means that more and more companies will do the same and that s*cks.
 

emmzo

Posts: 256   +216
What's very alarming is the amount of people I saw on internet or irl saying that apple was caring more about your privacy than google for example.
That means that their marketing based on brain washing works, and that means that more and more companies will do the same and that s*cks.
It has always puzzled me why most people have strong emotional affiliations to big tech firms and actively defend them, even when it`s contrary to their interests. I guess psychologically, this association validates their ego. Feeling superior is far better than reasoning.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wasteak

Puiu

Posts: 4,136   +2,743
TechSpot Elite
It has always puzzled me why most people have strong emotional affiliations to big tech firms and actively defend them, even when it`s contrary to their interests. I guess psychologically, this association validates their ego. Feeling superior is far better than reasoning.
It's 100% the Ego
 

Endymio

Posts: 989   +830
It has always puzzled me why most people have strong emotional affiliations to big tech firms and actively defend them
"Most"? For every such person, there are a hundred or more who vent outright hatred against any large corporation, and often any rich person as well, simply because of their wealth. Rank jealousy, which they rationalize away, even to themselves. Note in this very thread the anti-Apple comments, sparked by nothing more than an accusation by a politically-motivated activist. I have yet to see one such poster address the substance of the claim: Is Apple's IDFA token essentially the same as a cookie? Maybe yes, maybe no ... but why assume the worst, simply because Apple has a large bank account?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Plutoisaplanet

emmzo

Posts: 256   +216
"Most"? For every such person, there are a hundred or more who vent outright hatred against any large corporation, and often any rich person as well, simply because of their wealth. Rank jealousy, which they rationalize away, even to themselves. Note in this very thread the anti-Apple comments, sparked by nothing more than an accusation by a politically-motivated activist. I have yet to see one such poster address the substance of the claim: Is Apple's IDFA token essentially the same as a cookie? Maybe yes, maybe no ... but why assume the worst, simply because Apple has a large bank account?
Demonizing a company or fully support them whatever they do is just as bad. There are people on both extremes and this is essentially wrong. Personally, I think tracking of any kind used for profit is a cookie, but the accusations need to be proven in court. It`s just an opinion, but I see for some people my statement translates into "I hate the rich, let`s rob them".
 

jpuroila

Posts: 246   +130
Demonizing a company or fully support them whatever they do is just as bad. There are people on both extremes and this is essentially wrong. Personally, I think tracking of any kind used for profit is a cookie, but the accusations need to be proven in court. It`s just an opinion, but I see for some people my statement translates into "I hate the rich, let`s rob them".
I don't know, when was the last time Google(for example) did something(other than PR stunt) that wasn't evil?