The French Commission Nationale Informatique & Libertés (CNIL) has found Apple in violation of the Data Protection Act and levied an €8 million fine over personalized ads in App Store on iOS 14.6.
iOS 14.5 introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT) which mandates all developers including Apple to seek users’ permission to track their online activity across third-party apps and websites. The feature is designed to prevent invasive tracking and preserve users’ privacy.
Last year, a lobby group ‘France Digitale’ filed a complaint against Apple at the EU antitrust commission accusing the iPhone maker of advertising its own apps in the App Store without users’ consent. In its initial report, the French CNIL data protection authority expressed doubt over the tech company’s compliance with EU privacy rules.
Apple calls CNIL’s decision over App Store Search ads “disappointing”
CNIL explained that it investigated advertisements in the App Store during 2021 and 2022 over the filed complaint and found that iOS 14.6 identifiers were enabled to collect data and show personalized ads by default without getting users’ consent. Since this practice breaches the Data Protection Act, the authority has imposed an 8 million euro fine on the tech giant.
In addition, the user had to perform a large number of actions to successfully deactivate this parameter since this possibility was not integrated into the initialization process of the telephone. The user had to click on the “Settings” icon of the iPhone, then go to the “Privacy” menu and finally to the section entitled “Apple Advertising”. These elements did not make it possible to collect the prior consent of users.
Consequently, the restricted training, the body of the CNIL responsible for pronouncing the sanctions, noted a breach of article 82 of the Data Protection Act and sanctioned the company APPLE DISTRIBUTION INTERNATIONAL with a fine of 8 million euros. , made public.
The tech company does not agree with the decision and has decided to appeal it. In a statement given to the correspondent of the Financial Times, Patrick McGee, Apple said that CNIL’s decision was disappointing and the company protects users’ privacy by not tracking their online activity through third-party apps and websites. The company also mentioned that it shows personalized ads in the App Store using only the first-party data willingly shared by the users.
“We are disappointed with this decision given the CNIL has previously recognized that how we serve search ads in the App Store prioritizes user privacy, and we will appeal.
Apple Search Ads goes further than any other digital advertising platform we are aware of by providing users with a clear choice as to whether or not they would like personalized ads.
Additionally, Apple Search Ads never tracks users across 3rd party apps and websites, and only uses first-party data to personalize ads. We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and a user should always get to decide whether to share their data and with whom.”