BusinessMirror

Pri­vacy ac­tivists in EU file com­plaints over iphone track­ing

- BY FRANK JORDANS

Ber­lin—euro­pean pri­vacy ac­tivists have filed com­plaints against Ap­ple over its use of soft­ware to track the be­hav­ior of iphone users.

The Vi­enna-based group Noyb—short for “none of your busi­ness,” said on Mon­day that it has asked data pro­tec­tion au­thor­i­ties in Ger­many and Spain to ex­am­ine the le­gal­ity of Ap­ple’s track­ing codes.

The codes, known as IDFA or Iden­ti­fier for Ad­ver­tis­ers, are sim­i­lar to the cook­ies that web sites use to store in­for­ma­tion on user be­hav­ior.

NOYB says the IOS op­er­at­ing sys­tem cre­ates unique codes for each iphone that al­low Ap­ple and other third par­ties to “iden­tify users across ap­pli­ca­tions and even con­nect on­line and mo­bile be­hav­iour.”

The group ar­gues that this amounts to track­ing with­out users’ knowl­edge or con­sent, a prac­tice that is banned un­der the Euro­pean Union’s elec­tronic pri­vacy rules.

“Track­ing is only al­lowed if users ex­plic­itly con­sent to it,” said Ste­fano Ros­setti, a lawyer for NOYB. The pri­vacy group said it is cur­rently re­view­ing a sim­i­lar sys­tem used by Google.

Ap­ple dis­missed the claims in NOYB’S com­plaint, say­ing they were “fac­tu­ally in­ac­cu­rate and we look for­ward to mak­ing that clear to pri­vacy reg­u­la­tors should they ex­am­ine the com­plaint.”

“Ap­ple does not ac­cess or use the IDFA on a user’s de­vice for any pur­pose,” the com­pany said.

“Our aim is al­ways to pro­tect the pri­vacy of our users,” Ap­ple said, adding that the lat­est ver­sion of its soft­ware gives users greater con­trol over whether apps can track them, in­clud­ing whether their in­for­ma­tion can be linked with data from third par­ties “for the pur­pose of ad­ver­tis­ing, or shar­ing their in­for­ma­tion with data bro­kers.”

“Our prac­tices com­ply with Euro­pean law,” it said. NOYB, founded by pri­vacy ac­tivist and lawyer Max Schrems, has filed nu­mer­ous cases against ma­jor tech com­pa­nies in­clud­ing one against Face­book that re­cently led the Euro­pean Union’s top court to strike down an agree­ment that al­lows com­pa­nies to trans­fer data to the United States over snoop­ing con­cerns.

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