Apple Fined $11 Million in Italy for Employing ‘Aggressive Methods’ in Commercial Use of Private Data

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Apple Fined $11 Million in Italy for Employing 'Aggressive Methods' in Commercial Use of Private Data

Apple and Google were today fined 10 million euros ($ 11 million) by the Italian competition authority for allegedly using user data for commercial purposes without their express consent, an apparent violation of Italy’s consumer law.

The authority claims that both Apple and Google use user data they collect through their services for promotional and economic activity without the user’s consent. Apple “directly exploits the economic value” of user data it collects to “increase sales of its products and / or third-party sales through its commercial platforms (App Store, iTunes Store and Apple Books)”, according to a machine-translated copy of the press release.

The watchdog claims that neither Apple nor Google provide users with sufficient and immediate information that their data will be used for commercial purposes. Specifically, the reading of the fine claims that Apple does not allow users to opt out of the use of their data for commercial purposes. According to the press release (machine translation):

In the case of Apple, however, promotional activity is based on a method of obtaining consent for the use of user data for commercial purposes without allowing the consumer a prior and express choice to share their data. This acquisition architecture, developed by Apple, does not allow it to exercise its will to use one’s data for commercial purposes. Therefore, the consumer is conditioned on the choice of consumption and undergoes the transfer of personal information that Apple may dispose of for its own promotional purposes performed in various ways.

The Italian government said that when users create an Apple ID, which is essential for accessing any of Apple’s services, Apple does not “immediately and explicitly provide the user with any indication of the collection and use of (their) data for commercial purposes. purpose.” Watchdog added that Apple only tells users that their data will be used to enhance and personalize their experience, not that they will be used for commercial purposes.

When using the ‌App Store‌, for example, Apple displays a splash screen informing users that Apple may use some of their data to “enable features, secure our services, or customize your experience.” Although the Authority correctly outlines Apple’s failure to acknowledge that data would be used for commercial purposes, it does not provide examples or evidence that Apple participated in such activities.

Apple’s privacy policy, which is accessible to all users of its websites, states that the company will only use personal data to operate its services, comply with local laws, prevent fraud and for communication purposes. Apple’s privacy policy also adds that personal data may only be used for other purposes with the user’s consent, which covers any possible ambiguity.

Italy’s competition watchdog fined Apple more than $ 150 million earlier this week for alleged anti-competitive practices with Beats and Amazon. The fine was the result of an investigation that showed that Apple and Amazon restricted sales of Beats products through third-party retailers in an attempt to stifle competition. As for today’s fine, Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

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