Apple accused of tracking iPhone users without consent

Privacy activists in EU file complaints over iPhone tracking

It is the first such major action against the U.S. technology group in regards to European Union privacy rules.

The Californian tech giant has said it provides users with a superior level of privacy protection.

A man tries out an Apple Inc iPhone 12 Pro Max at an Apple flagship store in Sydney on Friday.

It said its aim was to protect the privacy of its users and that the latest release of its iOS 14 operating system gave users greater control over whether apps could link with third parties for the purposes of targeted advertising.

The complaint focuses on Apple's use of unique codes assigned to iPhones which track users' behavior, and allow advertisers to target them accordingly. We find that this constitutes a violation of the so-called "cookie law" ... which prohibits the installation of trackers of any sort without the user consent. "While Apple introduced functions in their browser to block cookies, it places similar codes in its phones, without any consent by the user", said Noyb lawyer Stefano Rossetti, describing the company's actions as "a clear breach of European Union privacy laws".

Stefano Rossetti, a privacy lawyer at NOYB, said the way the IDFA code was used was "a clear breach of European Union privacy laws".

Apple's planned new rules would not change this as they would restrict third-party access but not Apple's.

Apple accounts for one in every four smartphones sold in Europe, according to Counterpoint Research.

NOYB's complaints have been filed in both Spain and Germany under Article 5 (3) of the e-Privacy Directive rather than under GDPR, meaning the authorities in both nations do not need to cooperate with the EU. In Germany, each federal state has its own data protection authority.

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Now the activists say they want to establish a clear precedent that tracking should be the exception, not the rule.

"The IDFA should not only be restricted, but permanently deleted", said Rossetti.

Comments will be moderated.

The claims were made on behalf of a German and a Spanish consumer and handed to the Spanish data protection authority and its counterpart in Berlin, said Noyb.

Today, the activist is launching legal broadsides against Apple, saying that the iPhone maker's use of IDFA, IDentifier For Advertisers, is unlawful.

Mr Schrems has been challenging Facebook in the Irish courts - where the social media company has its European base - arguing that EU citizens' data is at risk the moment it gets transferred to the US.

Apple was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

Apple described the complaint as "factually inaccurate" and told The Telegraph their practices comply with European law including the e-Privacy Directive.

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