Privacy Group Files Legal Complaints in Europe Targeting Apple's Device Identifier Service for Advertisers

noyb logoApple's device identifier service for advertisers is being targeted by privacy advocates in two complaints to Spanish and German authorities, reports Bloomberg.

A Vienna-based group called NOYB ("None Of Your Business") has filed complaints with data protection authorities in the two countries, calling for them to outlaw Apple's "Identifier for Advertisers" (IDFA) service.

Each ‌iPhone‌ that Apple sells comes with the unique identifier, which lets advertisers track the actions users take when they use apps. The group argues that the service allows Apple and various apps to track users and collect data on their web use without their consent.

"With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal, unless a user freely consents," NOYB lawyer Stefano Rossetti said in a statement. "Smartphones are the most intimate device for most people and they must be tracker-free by default."

App developers have historically used IDFA to help target users with ads and track the performance of ads across different devices. Next year, however, Apple will require apps to seek customer consent before the IDFA can be used in iOS 14 to track user behavior and preference across apps and websites for ad targeting purposes.

The requirement was announced in June alongside ‌iOS 14‌ and was originally expected to go into force with the release of Apple's latest mobile operating system, but Apple chose to delay the anti-tracking feature until 2021 to "give developers time to make the necessary changes."

The delay was announced only after major app developers and ad networks like Facebook spoke out against the feature, with Facebook warning advertisers on its platform that it could cause a more than 50 percent drop in Audience Network publisher revenue due to the loss of personalization from ads within apps. Apple is also facing an antitrust complaint from French advertisers who say it could force their revenue to plummet.

Last year, Mozilla launched a petition urging Apple to implement an automatic monthly reset on identifiers to make it harder for companies to build a profile about users over time. "It's like a salesperson following you from store to store while you shop and recording each thing you look at," argued the petition. "Not very private at all."

Related Roundups: iOS 14, iPadOS 14
Tag: Europe

Top Rated Comments

ruka.snow Avatar
15 weeks ago
I wish NOYB all the success they need to get these companies out of phones. Mozilla also has a good suggestion there but I worry these 'people' would find a way using other data to link to ID's together. It could be as little as knowing that user has seven of their apps installed and then they've narrowed down when the identifier changes for that user.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Yammabot Avatar
15 weeks ago
The entire process has to stop. No more tracking under any circumstance. Advertisers should learn how to advertise not track and surveillance. Most ads today are so poor you wouldn’t buy the products just because of the inferior advertising.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Reason077 Avatar
15 weeks ago
Apple's anonymised ID should be the least of their worries. If you don't want it, you can just turn it off in Settings -> Privacy -> Advertising. It needs to be opt in, rather than on by default - but it sounds like this is what Apple already plans to do.

Google and Facebook are an order of magnitude more problematic than anything Apple does. These guys have enough data to build a profile on you without the need for any cross-site advertising IDs. By banning them elsewhere we are just concentrating more and more power (and more advertising dollars) in hands of the largest players.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
15 weeks ago
We use this A LOT at work (online marketing and app development) and it always makes me roll my eyes when Apple talks about caring about its user privacy while letting devs install and use all those Spyware tools in their apps (ours included).

personalized ads aren’t just annoying, they are also dangerous and shaping individuals personality. For instance, I had to do some research for my mother and now all I am receiving is ads or articles about those topics and I am like I AM NOT INTERESTED. What if I like Spain? That doesn’t mean I am not interested in Norway but those ads will keep showing me Spain so eventually your brain will go like Spain Spain Spain. Also a nice „Tool“ to shape opinions
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yurc Avatar
15 weeks ago
I am okay with advertising business, but snooping and tracking someone else device isn't.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
15 weeks ago
isn’t what the group wants in line with what Apple is trying to implement? Just that Apple has chosen to extend the grace period, but it seems like it will eventually be here? Long before the lawsuit takes effect anyways.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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