(Reuters) – A group led by privacy activist Max Schrems lodged a complaint on Monday with German and Spanish authorities over Apple's online tracking tool, saying it violated European law by allowing iPhones to store users' data without their consent.
It is the first major action against the US Technology Group related to EU privacy rules.
Noyb, the digital rights group run by Schrems, has successively fought against two landmarks for privacy against Facebook.
Apple said it was not immediately able to comment.
The company previously said that it provided users with a superior level of privacy protection. The California tech giant had said it would tighten its rules further with the launch of its iOS 1
Noyb's complaint was raised against Apple's use of a code that is automatically generated on each iPhone when it is set up, the so-called identifier for advertisers.
The code, stored on the device, allows Apple and third parties to track a user's online behavior and consumption preferences – crucial for the similarity of Facebook in order to send targeted ads that will interest the user.
"Apple places codes that are comparable to a cookie in its phones without the user's consent. This is a clear violation of EU privacy laws, says Noyb's lawyer Stefano Rossetti. Rossetti referred to the EU e-Privacy Directive, which requires the user's consent before installing and using such information.
Apple's planned new rules would not change this as they would restrict third party access but not Apple's.
Apple accounts for one in four smartphones sold in Europe, according to Counterpoint Research.
The allegations were made on behalf of an individual German and Spanish consumer and submitted to the Spanish authorities. protection authority and its equivalent in Berlin, said Noyb.
The Spanish Secrecy Bureau confirmed that it had received a complaint from Noyb against Apple but declined to comment.
The Berlin Bureau had no comment. In Germany, each federal state has its own data protection authority.
Noyb said the allegations were based on the 2002 ePrivacy Directive, which allows national authorities to impose fines autonomously and avoid lengthy proceedings they faced in their case against Facebook, which was based on the EU General Data Protection Regulation.
The GDPR system launched in 2018 included a mandatory cooperation mechanism among national authorities, which Noyb says has slowed progress.
Mr. Rossetti said the measure was aimed at establishing a clear principle that "tracking must be the exception, not the rule."
Apple faced an antitrust complaint in France last month in which advertising groups opposed the planned privacy changes, saying they gave Apple an unfair advantage.
Although Schrems has won legal victories in Europe against Facebook's privacy practices, the US social network has been able to adapt its targeted online advertising model. Catalog