Apple Fined $11 Million in Italy for Employing 'Aggressive Methods' in Commercial Use of Private Data

Apple and Google were today fined 10 million euros ($11 million) by Italy's Competition Authority for allegedly using user data for commercial purposes without their explicit consent, an apparent violation of Italy's Consumer Code.

apple privacy
The authority claims that both Apple and Google utilize user data they collect through their services for promotional and economic activity without the user's consent. Apple "directly exploits the economic value" of user data it collects to "increase the sale of its products and/or those of third parties through its commercial platforms (App Store, iTunes Store, and Apple Books)," according to a machine-translated copy of the press release.

The watchdog claims that neither Apple nor Google provides users with sufficient and immediate information that their data will be used for commercial purposes. Specifically, the readout of the fine claims that Apple does not provide users with a way to opt out of the use of their data for commercial purposes. As per the press release (machine translation):

In the case of Apple, however, the promotional activity is based on a method of acquiring consent to the use of user data for commercial purposes without providing the consumer with the possibility of a prior and express choice on sharing their data. This acquisition architecture, prepared by Apple, does not make it possible to exercise one's will on the use of one's data for commercial purposes. Therefore, the consumer is conditioned in the choice of consumption and undergoes the transfer of personal information, which Apple can dispose of for its own promotional purposes carried out in different ways.

The Italian authority said when users create an Apple ID, which is essential for accessing any of Apple's services, Apple does not "immediately and explicitly provide the user with any indication on the collection and use of (their) data for commercial purposes." The watchdog added that Apple only tells users that their data will be used to improve and personalize their experience, not that it will be used for commercial purposes.

When using the ‌App Store‌, for example, Apple does show users a splash screen that informs them that Apple may use some of their data to "enable features, secure our services, or personalize your experience." While the authority correctly outlines Apple's lack of acknowledgment that data would be used for commercial purposes, it fails to provide examples or evidence that Apple has partaken in such activities.

Apple's privacy policy, accessible to all users on its websites, states the company will only use personal data to power its services, comply with local laws, prevent fraud, and for communication objectives. Apple's privacy policy also adds that personal data may be used for other purposes only with user consent, covering any possible ambiguity.

Italy's competition watchdog fined Apple over $150 million earlier this week for alleged anti-competitive practices with Beats and Amazon. The fine was a result of an investigation that found Apple and Amazon were limiting the sales of Beats products through third-party resellers in an attempt to stifle competition.

Update: Apple in a statement to MacRumors said that the authority's viewpoint is "wrong' and that it plans on appealing the decision. Apple also said that it only sends marketing emails to customers after receiving their explicit consent and that it uses its "Data & Privacy" screen to inform users of ways their personal data is being used. Apple also said it does not personalize any of its services, including its digital Stores, for children and allows users to disable personalization at any time.

We believe the Authority's view is wrong and will be appealing the decision. Apple has a long-standing commitment to the privacy of our users and we work incredibly hard to design products and features that protect customer data. We provide industry-leading transparency and control to all users so they can choose what information to share or not, and how it is used.

Tag: Italy

Top Rated Comments

GeoStructural Avatar
15 months ago
How dare they! Apple is all about privacy, they said so in a commercial. “What happens in your iPhone stays in your iPhone”.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Love-hate ? relationship Avatar
15 months ago
such bastards ,they limit so many things for " privacy" ,just to actually use the data themselves??
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jayducharme Avatar
15 months ago
I don’t understand this. Anyone who gets an Apple device is presented with multiple screens asking the user to opt in or out of various features. So is this saying that if a user opts out of everything, Apple still collects data for commercial use?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lihp8270 Avatar
15 months ago

I don’t understand it either. Is any harm coming to the consumer? If not, why are they being fined? And while they’re at, why not fine every website on the internet that doesn’t let you opt out of cookies?
It you’re in the EU nearly every website now displays a cookie opt out window.

It’s infuriating, many US based sites just block access from the EU and the UK as they don’t want to comply with data laws.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
h3ysw5nkan Avatar
15 months ago
I think it's about getting more tax dollar.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
buckwheet Avatar
15 months ago
Uh... the article indicates that there's no proof given for the claim that Apple has, in fact, actually used the data for commercial purposes. It's quite possible the intention here is to hide behind the vagueness of "commercial purposes" to pick up $150m.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Expected Later This Year With These 7 Exclusive Features

Tuesday January 24, 2023 4:53 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least seven exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the seven features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
Mac mini M2 2023

New 256GB Mac Mini and 512GB MacBook Pro Have Slower SSD Speeds Than Previous Models

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:11 pm PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M2 chip has a lower $599 starting price, the base model with 256GB of storage has slower SSD read and write speeds compared to the previous-generation model with the M1 chip and 256GB of storage. A teardown of the new Mac mini shared by YouTube channel Brandon Geekabit reveals that the 256GB model is equipped with only a single 256GB storage chip, while the...
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Expected to Feature Wi-Fi 6E Like Latest Macs and iPad Pro

Wednesday January 25, 2023 5:39 pm PST by
The iPhone 15 will support Wi-Fi 6E, according to a research note shared this week by Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O'Malley. The analysts did not specify whether the feature will be available on all models or limited to the Pro models. Apple has added Wi-Fi 6E support to a handful of devices so far, including the latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Pro Mac Mini

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
The new M2-series MacBook Pro and Mac mini models launched today, marking the debut of the first M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. We have the M2 Pro Mac mini on hand, and thought we'd take a look at the machine and do a series of benchmarks to see how it fits into Apple's lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Base model Mac mini machines come with either an M2 or M2 Pro...
apple tv 4k red image

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3

Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released tvOS 16.3, the third major point update to the tvOS 16 operating system that originally came out in September. Available for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, tvOS 16.3 comes six weeks after tvOS 16.2, an update that added Apple Music Sing. The tvOS 16.3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Max MacBook Pro

Thursday January 26, 2023 12:14 pm PST by
New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with the latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are available in Apple retail stores and are already in the hands of customers, and we picked up one of the new M2 Max machines to answer all of the questions MacRumors readers considering a purchase might have. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Yesterday, we asked MacRumors fans on...