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

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

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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.


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