German court strikes down Apple's customer data privacy rules

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's customer data sharing policies have been found by a German court to violate the country's consumer privacy protection laws, and the iPhone maker has been ordered to retool the way it deals with some consumer data.

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A Berlin court on Tuesday struck down eight of 15 Apple provisions governing its use of customer data, Bloomberg reported. The provisions had been challenged by German consumer advocate group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VSBV), which celebrated the court's ruling on its website.

As a result of the court's decision, Apple is forbidden from seeking "global consent" to use customer data like location information. Instead, the company may have to specify in each case what a customer's data will be used for and by which programs. VZBV officials cheered the result.

"The verdict," said Gerd Billen, VZBV's executive director, "shows the importance of privacy for consumers in the digital world."

Apple had already signed a binding agreement with VZBV that it would not use seven of the 15 clauses that make up its general data use terms. The court's decision on Tuesday invalidated the remaining eight clauses.

The decision also blocked Apple from giving consumer data to other companies that used it for advertising.

The amount and importance of data customers enter into their iOS devices has grown as the devices have become more popular. The sensitivity of the data gathered by and entered onto these devices has led to numerous efforts around the world to ensure consumer privacy. 2011 saw governments in France, Germany, Italy, and South Korea asking Apple to clarify its use of location data after tests reportedly found that users' iPhones were collecting and storing location information even when location services were turned off.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Did they do the same for Google?

  • Reply 2 of 61
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,182member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Did they do the same for Google?



    Precisely what I was thinking.

  • Reply 3 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Did they do the same for Google?



    Huh? Was Google involved in the case? Google has it's own issues with EU privacy for which a settlement is still being discussed. The two cases have nothing to do with each other as far as I know tho I wouldn't be shocked that some issues in Apple's German case also become EU-wide issues.

  • Reply 4 of 61
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    Huh? Was Google involved in the case?


     


    You know that isn't the point.

  • Reply 5 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    You know that isn't the point.



    Of course it's the point. Deflect from Apple and make it a discussion about Google. What other purpose would your post serve?

  • Reply 6 of 61
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    As a result of the court's decision, Apple is forbidden from seeking "global consent" to use customer data like location information. Instead, the company may have to specify in each case what a customer's data will be used for and by which programs. VZBV officials cheered the result.


     


    Not sure I would cheer.  Depends on what this decision covers.  For example:


     


    Apple depends on anonymous collection of location data in order to build up their database of cell ids and WiFi hotspots.


     


    If people have to opt in to allow such collection, non-GPS location services could ultimately suffer.


     


    Quote:


    The decision also blocked Apple from giving consumer data to other companies that used it for advertising.



     


    Need some clarification here.

  • Reply 7 of 61
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    Deflect from Apple and make it a discussion about Google. What other purpose would your post serve?


     


    Not, "not refute the point being made about Apple but rather hope they don't hold a double standard because that would be illegal"? Sounds like you'd want to get behind that instead.

  • Reply 8 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member


    The Germans have stronger privacy expectations than we do in the US. For example here we had no problem with Google Streetview. The Germans do. Those privacy expectations extend to Apple as well.


     


    The very broad rights to use and share "non-personal" customer data with anyone for any purpose that Apple tries to claim via their somewhat vague privacy policy doesn't pass muster with them and it really shouldn't be a surprise that it doesn't. The Germans expect a little more transparency on just what Apple gathers, for what purposes and how it's shared. One area specifically mentioned is that Apple can no longer share that German customer data with outside 3rd parties for advertising purposes. Just because it's Apple doesn't mean privacy clarity and expectations shouldn't apply does it?


     


    I would guess that Apple is already working on a new and more specific Privacy Policy for the European region. 

  • Reply 9 of 61
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,972member
    Did they do the same for Google?

    Don't point out the speck in your brother's eye when you have a plank in yours.
  • Reply 10 of 61
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

    For example here we had no problem with Google Streetview.


     


    Oh, don't we? image





    One area specifically mentioned is that Apple can no longer share that German customer data with outside 3rd parties for advertising purposes.



     


    Were they doing that before?






    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

    Don't point out the speck in your brother's eye when you have a plank in yours.


     



    Talk about irony.

  • Reply 11 of 61
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    Can't we all get along?
  • Reply 12 of 61
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,972member
    Oh, don't we? :lol:

    Were they doing that before?
    Talk about irony.

    It is the epitome of ironic. I thought it was a typo when I read the headline.
  • Reply 13 of 61
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

    It is the epitome of ironic. I thought it was a typo when I read the headline.


     


    No, no, I mean thinking Google only has a speck.

  • Reply 14 of 61
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,974member


    It looks like Germany would be a perfect country to sell a low-cost, no frills iPhone. Apple could then deliver a chopped up iOS that doesn't include much of anything. This should satisfy the German court.

  • Reply 15 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Were they doing that before?



    Seems the Germans think they were. 

  • Reply 16 of 61
    isaidsoisaidso Posts: 750member


    This question is off topic, and not related to this case. If anybody has an answer, I'd appreciate it.


     


    Under German law, is Google permitted to seek "global consent" to use customer data like location information. Or must they specify in each case what a customer's data will be used for, and by which programs?


     


    Also, are Google allowed to provide consumer data to other companies that have used them for advertising?

  • Reply 17 of 61
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by isaidso View Post


    This question is off topic, and not related to this case. If anybody has an answer, I'd appreciate it.


     


    Under German law, is Google permitted to seek "global consent" to use customer data like location information. Or must they specify in each case what a customer's data will be used for, and by which programs?


     


    Also, are Google allowed to provide consumer data to other companies that have used them for advertising?



    You already have that answer. If Google does that and doesn't explain any better than Apple does how data is collected and used they wouldn't be any better than Apple and the same rules would apply wouldn't they? It's not as tho the EU isn't investigating Google's Privacy Policies too. So far Apple's problem only extends to Germany. Don't be surprised that it eventually gets the EU Commissions attention too just as Google has.


     


    Apple and Google are very much alike when it comes to their privacy policies. Apple has been fortunate up until now to avoid the level of scrutiny that Google gets.

  • Reply 18 of 61
    alex101alex101 Posts: 40member


    Google was ordered to pay a fine of €145.000 just last month. They were proven guilty of recording personal WLAN information without permission while gathering all the data for Street View. Also last month, France, Germany and four other European countries filed a lawsuit because of a change Google made to the Terms of Use which allows them to share user data between their different services. The list goes on and on, Google really is getting under fire a lot in Europe and Germany specifically for data privacy issues. There's no indication whatsoever Apple is getting handled any different than any other companies.


     


    Also, as Gatorguy said, us Germans take data privacy pretty seriously, each of the 16 federal states even have a government agency just for data privacy issues.

  • Reply 19 of 61
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,627member
    So does that mean users will be prompted every time location services are needed? If so, that could be quite annoying.
  • Reply 20 of 61
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    rob53 wrote: »
    It looks like Germany would be a perfect country to sell a low-cost, no frills iPhone. Apple could then deliver a chopped up iOS that doesn't include much of anything. This should satisfy the German court.

    Yes. Actually it would be... but not for the snarky comment on the end of the post.

    Real reason: majority of Germans are on inexpensive POG plans using "Smart Phones", not "Super Smart Phones". BTW: this extra "Super" category is starting to be used now more often in German tech media to differentiate the low-spec phones that many people were led to believe were "the same as the iPhone or Galaxy" brands.

    On topic: yes... the Germans are extremely vigilant protecting their privacy rights(!). Although a very large number do not have the slightest idea how much data-mining is going on by Google, because it's just too far out their for them to fathom really. They have been led to believe that the government, or specifically the VZBV would have stopped anything even approaching what Google does, long, long ago. It has been rather recent that many Germans have become of aware of what's being collected... and of course... Apple is the worst offender because they make the most profit.... and are inherently evil because of it.

    Not going to rag on my adopted country any longer, but they are a rather naive bunch when it comes to computer technology... other than those that work in the industry. Just sayin'......:p
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