Italian regulator says Apple's iCloud terms are unreasonable, may be illegal

Posted:
in iCloud
The antitrust authority in Italy has concluded its investigation into Apple, Google, and others, and concluded that some of Apple's iCloud conditions are unlawful.

Apple Store Piazza in Milan
Apple Store Piazza in Milan


A year after it began investigating Apple, Google, and Dropbox's cloud service, Italy's L'Autorit Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has issued a report.

The Guarantee Authority for Competition and the Market, takes issue with three key elements of cloud computing agreements. Those are the company's rights to change the terms at any time, the degree by which the firms attempt to escape any liability, and a lack of transparency over data security.

Regarding Apple, Google, and Dropbox, the regulator says that contract terms and agreements are unfairly biased in favor of the companies.

Perhaps more surprisingly, in the case of Apple, the Italian report surfaces a little-known aspect of iCloud data security.

"If a device has not backed up to iCloud for a period of one hundred and eighty (180) days," the report quotes (in translation), "Apple reserves the right to delete backups associated with that device."

So if a user doesn't use their iCloud account at all for six months -- including any health app data recording, or device settings -- then Apple may delete it all. Italy's AGCM says most users are unaware of this.

Similarly, it argues that Apple users are not informed of how the company secures and backs up customers' data in iCloud. Instead, they are merely encouraged to make their own backups as well, which the authority again says most users will not know.

Apple has contributed to the investigation and commented on each of these points. Its representatives, for instance, claimed that its terms and conditions cannot be in breach of the law, because they specify that they apply only to the extent allowed by those laws.

The report nonetheless concludes that Apple, and others, have unfair terms which may be illegal. What the report does not do, though, is specify any remedies, nor indicate what the Italian authorities intend to do with this conclusion.

AGCM has previously also ruled against Apple over the company's intentional slowing down of iPhones with chemically depleted and worn batteries.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    Guess what? If you don't like the terms of use, do NOT sign up.

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 29
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,719member
    The antitrust authority in Italy has concluded its investigation into Apple, Google, and others, and concluded that some of Apple's iCloud conditions are unlawful.

    Apple Store Piazza in Milan
    Apple Store Piazza in Milan


    A year after it began investigating Apple, Google, and Dropbox's cloud service, Italy's L'Autorit Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has issued a report.

    The Guarantee Authority for Competition and the Market, takes issue with three key elements of cloud computing agreements. Those are the company's rights to change the terms at any time, the degree by which the firms attempt to escape any liability, and a lack of transparency over data security.

    Regarding Apple, Google, and Dropbox, the regulator says that contract terms and agreements are unfairly biased in favor of the companies.

    Perhaps more surprisingly, in the case of Apple, the Italian report surfaces a little-known aspect of iCloud data security.

    "If a device has not backed up to iCloud for a period of one hundred and eighty (180) days," the report quotes (in translation), "Apple reserves the right to delete backups associated with that device."

    So if a user doesn't use their iCloud account at all for six months -- including any health app data recording, or device settings -- then Apple may delete it all. Italy's AGCM says most users are unaware of this.

    Similarly, it argues that Apple users are not informed of how the company secures and backs up customers' data in iCloud. Instead, they are merely encouraged to make their own backups as well, which the authority again says most users will not know.

    Apple has contributed to the investigation and commented on each of these points. Its representatives, for instance, claimed that its terms and conditions cannot be in breach of the law, because they specify that they apply only to the extent allowed by those laws.

    The report nonetheless concludes that Apple, and others, have unfair terms which may be illegal. What the report does not do, though, is specify any remedies, nor indicate what the Italian authorities intend to do with this conclusion.

    AGCM has previously also ruled against Apple over the company's intentional slowing down of iPhones with chemically depleted and worn batteries.

    Read on AppleInsider

    Of course.  Just another government looking to get a piece of the Apple cash cow.  Really, a clause stating they have the legal right to delete backups that are never used and in accordance with applicable laws? That's what they are hanging their hats on?  Typical.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 29
    They delete your files after 180 days even if you have paid for the period ahead of time?
    Oferxyzzy01williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 29
    ApplePoor said:
    Guess what? If you don't like the terms of use, do NOT sign up.

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    Great suggestion. Please suggest another cloud service we can use to back up all our data on our iPhones.
    elijahgOferlam92103gatorguyxyzzy-xxxkillroy
  • Reply 5 of 29
    ApplePoor said:
    Guess what? If you don't like the terms of use, do NOT sign up.

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    Great suggestion. Please suggest another cloud service we can use to back up all our data on our iPhones.
    Backblaze, Dropbox, etc.. Every time you perform a local backup in the privacy of your own drive, it syncs automatically to the cloud. As simple as plugging in to charge.
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 29
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,417member
    ApplePoor said:
    Guess what? If you don't like the terms of use, do NOT sign up.

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    So you read the entire 10,000 word T&C's before you signed up? Of course you did. Also, putting something in T&Cs doesn't override the law and make it legal, even if someone agrees to it.
    Oferlam92103xyzzy01gatorguymuthuk_vanalingamkillroy
  • Reply 7 of 29
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,350member
    rcfa said:
    Bravo Italy! These are valid concerns.

    The issue is, these aren’t freely negotiated contracts, these are eat or die contracts users are forced to accept.

    What hopeless fan boys some here are, is obvious with the comments, since they fail to accept legitimate concerns where there are.
    While there may be legitimate concerns here, these are not eat or die contracts. iCloud is absolutely not the only backup solution. You can do a manual backup to your computer, upload content to Google Photos, Dropbox, Box, or any other number of services, you could also decide against an iPhone altogether and choose something else. There are plenty of options.
    Except iCloud is the only backup service that is built in to iOS and allows automatic restoration of your phone, etc. also, do those other services allow backups of health data, settings, passwords, etc? My understanding is that they only backup files. 
    edited September 28 Ofermuthuk_vanalingamelijahgxyzzy-xxxkillroy
  • Reply 8 of 29
    ClassicGeekClassicGeek Posts: 22unconfirmed, member
    Please read the T&C excerpt accurately. Only iCloud backups are subject to the 180 day window. Not other files stored on iCloud as long as you are paying for the storage. 

    I can’t read Italian, does the report refer to specific Italian law that the terms are in conflict with? If not, no case. 
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 29
     What the report does not do, though, is specify any remedies, nor indicate what the Italian authorities intend to do with this conclusion.
    this is false (at least about iCloud, I haven’t read the sections about Google and Dropbox, but I’m pretty sure they are the same). The report contains exactly the remedies that Apple is bound to implement (publishing a clear notice on apple.com, in the Italian version, with the text reported in the report), to avoid fines.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    ApplePoor said:

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    How about getting out of Italy if Apple doesn’t like local laws? Or Mr. Cook only kowtows to putin and China?
    edited September 28 williamlondonelijahgMplsP
  • Reply 11 of 29
    ApplePoor said:
    Guess what? If you don't like the terms of use, do NOT sign up.

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    Great suggestion. Please suggest another cloud service we can use to back up all our data on our iPhones.
    Backblaze, Dropbox, etc.. Every time you perform a local backup in the privacy of your own drive, it syncs automatically to the cloud. As simple as plugging in to charge.
    No, iCloud is deeply integrated into iOS – no other cloud service has any chance to backup your settings neither you will be able to restore your iOS device from anything other than an iCloud or iTunes (or macOS Finder) backup.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondongatorguyMplsPelijahgkillroy
  • Reply 12 of 29
    If one does not like the Apple eco-system, buy Android instead.  No one, yet, is forced to buy any Apple product be it software, hardware or services. 
    williamlondonmagman1979Detnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,250member
    ApplePoor said:
    If one does not like the Apple eco-system, buy Android instead.  No one, yet, is forced to buy any Apple product be it software, hardware or services. 
    The reverse doesn't work, "if you don't like Android buy iOS instead". 
  • Reply 14 of 29
    iCloud terms are definitely new international laws. Did Mr Cook said he’s going to change the world? He has dictated it. Who can say no?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 29
    ivanh said:
    iCloud terms are definitely new international laws. Did Mr Cook said he’s going to change the world? He has dictated it. Who can say no?
    Nonsensical gibberish.
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Oh look, the Italian mafia, erhem, excuse me, “government”, has discovered yet another shake down, oh pardon me, “income stream”…
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 29
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,500member
    xyzzy-xxx said:
    ApplePoor said:
    Guess what? If you don't like the terms of use, do NOT sign up.

    I'm so tired of the nanny state removing the responsibility from the user, who voluntarily signed up, for the user's poor decision making process. Read the agreement before joining. It is actually that simple.
    Great suggestion. Please suggest another cloud service we can use to back up all our data on our iPhones.
    Backblaze, Dropbox, etc.. Every time you perform a local backup in the privacy of your own drive, it syncs automatically to the cloud. As simple as plugging in to charge.
    No, iCloud is deeply integrated into iOS – no other cloud service has any chance to backup your settings neither you will be able to restore your iOS device from anything other than an iCloud or iTunes (or macOS Finder) backup.
    Yes. The person who suggested this said to do a finder backup and synch that to whatever cloud you want.  So it would get everything and allow you to restore the same as a normal Mac based backup. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 29
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,656member
    Oh look, the Italian mafia, erhem, excuse me, “government”, has discovered yet another shake down, oh pardon me, “income stream”…
    I think you'll find the mafia aren't in Italy pre say but a tiny city state in the middle of Italian City that ever tourist knows to use exact change and leave credit cards in the hotel while visiting. 

    It's funny people say government imposing crazy laws to protect citizen rights and assets but you do realise the USA legal system also only allows enforcement of T&C as long as they are legal. 
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 29
    Please read the T&C excerpt accurately. Only iCloud backups are subject to the 180 day window. Not other files stored on iCloud as long as you are paying for the storage. 

    I can’t read Italian, does the report refer to specific Italian law that the terms are in conflict with? If not, no case. 
    I would assume that if you're paying for iCloud storage, this would not pertain.

    Basically, I'll bet that Apple has a bunch of backups from abandoned (and probably no longer existing) devices and AppleIDs that they don't want to have to keep forever which were taken using the free 5 GB tier. A clarification from Apple would be good on that policy item.

    For those circumstances, a good requirement would be three mandatory periodic attempts to contact the owner using all contact methods registered with the AppleID that the data in the backup(s) would be deleted before taking action. Apple probably doesn't want to delete the AppleID in case the owner somedays wants to return to the fold, but keeping around ancient backups is counter-productive because everything in them is probably out of date.

    This is the problem with offering free anything - people tend to migrate away from it and not clean up after themselves. If the option required a fee, you can bet they'd take whatever action was needed before leaving.

    As for invalidating items in the TOS because no one reads them: what?

    Betcha there's lots of things in Italian law that no one reads, but are still enforced by Italian authorities.

    A problem with a lot of the EU is they're getting left back in the twentieth century when Europe was the center of world power, and they're offended - but that's really a problem with local governments and policies and their failure to keep up with the times. This seems like a self-inflicted wound, and one which local authorities need to address themselves.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 29
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,417member
    Please read the T&C excerpt accurately. Only iCloud backups are subject to the 180 day window. Not other files stored on iCloud as long as you are paying for the storage. 

    I can’t read Italian, does the report refer to specific Italian law that the terms are in conflict with? If not, no case. 
    I would assume that if you're paying for iCloud storage, this would not pertain.
    Your assumption is apparently wrong. There is nothing stating this applies to free tiers only, so backups will be deleted after 180 days no matter if it's your paid-for iCloud storage or not. So it turns out Apple is even controlling how long you should keep your data on the storage you're renting from them. Lovely.


    A problem with a lot of the EU is they're getting left back in the twentieth century when Europe was the center of world power, and they're offended - but that's really a problem with local governments and policies and their failure to keep up with the times. This seems like a self-inflicted wound, and one which local authorities need to address themselves.
    Not really sure what that (or this article) has to do with the EU. European countries yes, but not the EU. There are countries inside Europe that aren't, in fact, in the EU. 

    But talking about keeping up with the times, how's that second amendment from the 18th century serving you today? Rhetorical question, by the way.
    edited September 29
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