Legal complaints filed against Apple’s device identifier service for advertisers in Europe

Apple assigns a unique device identifier to each iPhone for third parties to track users for targeted ads (IDFA). However, the identifier is now itself a target of two complaints filed by NOYB, a not-for-profit European privacy campaign. NOYB (None Of Your Business) is a Vienna-based group, which has filed complaints with data protection authorities in the two countries, asking them to outlaw Apple’s ‘Identifier for Advertisers’ (IDFA) changes.

IDFA has helped app developers to target users with ads and track ad performance across various devices over time. However, next year developers will have to get customer consent before the IDFA can be utilized in iOS 14 to track preferences and user behavior across apps and websites for ad targeting purposes. This feature was announced in June along with iOS 14 and was initially expected to go into effect with the release of Apple’s latest mobile operating system, but Apple chose to delay the feature until 2021, the reason being that it would give developers more time to make the necessary adjustments.

Apple iOS 14

NOYB Files Complaints Against Apple’s IDFA

The complaints were filed with Spanish and German data protection authorities, in which it was said that Apple’s setting of IDFA breaches regional privacy laws on digital tracking because iOS users are usually not asked for consent for the initial storage of the identifier.

Moreover, NOYB is also criticizing other companies for being able to access the IDFA without consent. In one of its complaints, it was mentioned that a person was never asked for consent for third party access but still found several apps had shared their IDFA with Facebook.

Every iPhone that is sold by Apple comes with its own unique identifier, allowing advertisers to track the actions that users take when they use apps. However, the group’s arguing point is that this service allows Apple and a lot of apps to track users and collect data on their web use without consent.

iOS 14

In an official statement, NOYB’s lawyer Stefano Rosetti said,

“With our complaints we want to enforce a simple principle: trackers are illegal, unless a user freely consents. Smartphones are the most intimate device for most people and they must be tracker-free by default.”

Apple is on track to provide stronger security to users with new iOS 14 privacy updates which will make it harder for apps to track users without their consent for targeted ads. However, The feature was delayed due to major app developers like Facebook, who spoke out against this feature. Facebook warns advertisers on its platform that it could lose more than 50% in Audience Network publisher revenue due to the lack of personalization from ads within apps. 

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About the Author

Usman has been playing games for as long as he can remember. He is an editor at iThinkDifferent and writes about games, Apple news, hardware, productivity guides, and more. When not writing for iTD, Usman loves to play competitive Team Fortress 2, spends time honing his football skills, and watches superhero movies.