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Apple Tracks Ad Without User Consent, Digital Rights Activist Group NOYB Claims

Apple Tracks Ad Without User Consent, Digital Rights Activist Group NOYB Claims

The digital rights activist group, NOYB, has filed two complaints against Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) in Germany and Spain, accusing them of installing identification for advertisers on its devices.

NOYB is a not for profit organization that seeks legal recourse for alleged data privacy violations by tech companies.

What Happened: The Vienna-based entity claims that Apple’s operating system automatically generates a unique identifier for advertisers (or IDFA), allegedly being used as a tracking code.

These codes enable the iPhone maker and other third parties to determine the user’s mobile behavior and cross-device tracking.

Under the E.U. laws, Apple has to obtain informed consent from iOS users.

Stefano Rossetti, a data protection lawyer with the NOYB, stated that “while Apple introduced functions in their browser to block cookies, it places similar codes in its phones, without any consent by the user. This is a clear breach of E.U. privacy laws.”

In June, Forbes reported that Apple made the IDFA an opt-in feature with the iOS 14 release. But NOYB says that Apple apps could bypass the opt-in feature, which tantamounts to a breach of the European data privacy laws.

Why Does It Matter: Based on NOYB’s research, advertisers and application managers can utilize behavioral patterns collected from IDFA and launch a targeted, personalized ad campaign. It can also gauge other aspects like the user’s areas of interest and consumption preferences.

Instead of opting for the collaborated E.U. decision-making process under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), NOYB has filed the complaint under the e-Privacy Directive, Article 5(3). The e-Privacy Directive powers German and Spanish authorities to directly penalize Apple if found guilty, without seeking approval from other member nations of the E.U.

NOYB, in August, objected to EU-US data transfers by filing complaints against 101 European companies forwarding visitor data to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG).

In May this year, the NOYB, on behalf of an Austrian citizen, filed a GDPR complaint about Google’s Android advertising ID.

Price Action: AAPL shares are 0.28% lower at $112.92 in the pre-market session Monday.


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