Privacy activist Max Schrems’ hits Apple with new complaints of consent breach

Yesterday, a privacy activist group called Noyb founded and led by Max Schrems filed a complaint against the US tech giant Apple. A specific complaint has been filed with German and Spanish data protection authorities regarding the tracking tool of Apple. According to Max Schrems, Apple’s online tracking tool saves user data on iPhone without their consent. This is strictly against European law and also the first time Apple has been accused of such a major action that questions its privacy rules.

In response to this allegation, Apple has made it clear that the company is very strict and superior in terms of privacy protection. Apple will also tighten the rules further with the launch of iOS 14. Unfortunately, Apple’s plan to launch the new OS has been shifted to sometime earlier next year.

Why complain was launched against Apple?

Noyb brought the complaint against Apple regarding the company’s online tracking tool that automatically generates a tracking code while setting it up. This tracking code is called the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). This code is used by Apple and third-party applications to track the online behavior of the users and consumption preferences. By tracking these data, it will be easier to send the users targeted advertisements that might interest him or her.

According to Noyb lawyer, Stefano Rossetti, these codes are placed in the iPhones without user consent and it is a clear breach of European Union privacy laws. Stefano further gave a reference to the EU’s e-Privacy Directive according to which a user’s prior consent is required for the installation and use of such information. He also said that the complaint is not launched to make Apple pay higher fines but to establish a clear principle where tracking must not be the rue but an exception. He also demanded that instead of restricting IDFA it should rather be deleted. But, the planned new rules of Apple will not change this as it restricts the third-party apps from accessing such private data but not Apple.

German and Spanish market

Kantar Group in early 2019 revealed that 24.3% smartphone users across five major European market uses Apple’s iPhone. According to Counterpoint Research, currently one out of four smartphones sold in Europe is the iPhone which is very impressive growth. An accusation as big as this is most probably going to affect Apple’s European market. According to Noyb, the claims on behalf of German and Spanish consumers were handed to the Spanish data protection authority. The authorities counterpart in Berlin led by Austrian Schrems has also said it received the complaint against Apple. And, this privacy advocacy group has already won two trials against Facebook. Spain’s privacy protection authorities denied making any comments regarding this.

Apple hits back

In response to the claims by Noyb, Apple said that the claims were factually inaccurate and the company is looking forward to making it clear that the privacy regulators should examine the complaint. Moreover, specifically in response to the comment regarding IDFA, Apple said that “does not access or use the IDFA on a user’s device for any purpose”. Apple said that the company always targets on how to make the privacy of a user more protected and secure. And, iOS 14 gives the users control over whether they want to link the apps with the third party for targeted advertisement. Apple also said that the company’s practices comply with European law. The US tech supports and advances the aim of the GDPR and the e-Privacy Directive which makes sure users have the full power and control over their data.

More about Max Schrems

Max Schrems is a famous Australian activist who also founded NOYB- European Center for Digital Rights. He studied law at Santa Clara University. He is mostly famous because of the campaigns against Facebook for its privacy violations. Max accused Facebook of violating European privacy laws and allegedly sending personal data to the US National Security Agency (NSA). In 2018, he also filed suit against both Google and Facebook for coercing their users to accept data policies. He didn’t only target these two companies but also every other major tech giants around the world.

Originally published at on November 17, 2020.



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