A formal privacy case has been brought against Apple by consumer rights activist Max Schrems.
Schrems argues that iPhones generate an ID that violates privacy regulations by allowing advertisers to track users.
Formal complaints have been filed against Apple in Berlin and Spain via Schrems’ non-profit Noyb, which focuses on privacy rights.
His previous lawsuit against Facebook resulted in a landmark ruling and the restriction of the transferring of data between the EU and US.
The core of Schrems’ complaint revolves around the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) generated by each iPhone, which allows advertisers to better target users with adverts by tracking them across various apps.
Noyb argues that since the IDFA is generated without users knowing or consenting, it is a breach of EU privacy law. Despite users being able to reset the IDFA and control which apps have access to it, the IDFA cannot be prevented from being generated in the first place.
“EU law protects our devices from external tracking,” said Noyb privacy lawyer Stefano Rossetti. “Tracking is only allowed if users explicitly consent to it. This very simple rule applies regardless of the tracking technology used. While Apple introduced functions in its browser to block cookies, it places similar codes in its phones, without any consent by the user. This is a clear breach of EU privacy laws.
“With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal, unless a user freely consents. The IDFA should not only be restricted, but permanently deleted. Smartphones are the most intimate device for most people, and they must be tracker-free by default.”
Apple strongly denied the claims made by Noyb in a statement:
“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. 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 ePrivacy directive, which is to give people full control over their data.”
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