Apple's user data-sharing takes a hit in Germany after court objects to privacy policy

Apple's user data-sharing takes a hit in Germany after court objects to privacy policy

Summary: Apple's privacy policy jars with German data protection law, a Berlin court has found.

TOPICS: Privacy, Apple, EU

A German court has ruled that eight of 15 clauses in Apple's privacy policy, which covers how it can share data with partners, do not comply with the country's data protection laws.

Apple may need to redesign its data sharing practices for German consumers if the decision, handed down on Tuesday, by a Berlin regional court sticks.

According to German consumer rights group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VZBV), the decision confirms that Apple is prohibited from using generalised or "global consent" for how it uses customer data. Rather, for consent to be valid, it requires a company to tell consumers specifically what the data is used for.

According to VZBV, the court also prohibited Apple and its affiliates from merging user data with other information they have collected, since consumers would therefore be unclear on the limits to how the data could be used.

The rights group said the court also ruled out Apple sharing location data with partners to promote its location-based services and products.

The group announced its provisional court win against Apple on Tuesday, claiming it showed that Apple's privacy policy violates Germany's data protection laws.

Apple had previously agreed not to use seven of the clauses, but defended the remaining eight in the regional court. Recognised consumer rights groups can sue companies in Germany over illegal terms and conditions, Bloomberg noted in its report

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

According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, Apple had argued, among other things, that German law did not apply because personal information was not collected by a branch office in Germany. The court, however, disagreed.

Apple declined to comment to ZDNet on the decision, which it can appeal.

Topics: Privacy, Apple, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • where are all the anti-google conspiracy theorists?

    I've been telling you that ALL companies collect data and share it with partners but none of you believed a word of it. just living in your dream worlds where Google is evil and everyone else is out for your best interest...
    • Reports like this

      just serve to confuse people.

      We all know it's only google that uses data collected from users, mainly I'm told, to create clones and replace all human life with google controlled androids (??).
      Little Old Man
    • All politicians lie ...

      ... but that doesn’t mean they’re all equally bad. At least within the EU, Google’s privacy violations and contempt for EU law are much more egregious than anything competitors like Apple have done.

      More broadly, if you don’t like Apple’s data collection policies you can buy non-Apple devices, and that’s the end of it. Being the customer matters. With Google, end users are not customers, but rather a resource Google sell to advertisers. Even worse, Google’s ads are embedded in pages all over the web. Even if you don’t use Google’s search engine or Android devices at all, they still track you as you visit pages containing their ads.
      • you have "some" idea what you are talking about

        The EU is cracking down on Google for very minor nit-picky things. Things that aren't even given a second thought in America. European government is very sensitive when it comes to the privacy of its citizens. So sensitive that they exaggerate the possible harm that could come of anything.

        "Even if you don’t use Google’s search engine or Android devices at all, they still track you as you visit pages containing their ads"

        WHO CARES !?!?
        People say this as if it is a bloody travesty; that Google is spying on you and your deepest darkest secrets; that they are stealing your social security number, your name, and credit history. Give me a break! They are giving you a tracking cookie to give you personalized advertising. That's IT! You're not giving away any privacy by using Google.

        Even still, there are hundreds of ways to remain anonymous online. millions of people do it everyday. If you want to surf the internet without being tracked, it can be done.
  • Liam... it would've been a more useful article if you...

    I've seen this report in a couple of places but nowhere have I seen what it is exactly that the German courts object to. What is it that is so egregious? Would you please consider digging a little deeper and maybe list or summarize the offending clauses? The links you provide didn't help as one was even more vague and the other was in German.
    Thank you.
    • How good is your German?
  • RDF

    the belief that Apple has the users interest at heart has always been a fallacy.