Apple fined USD 11 million for commercial use of data

Apple and Google were fined 10 million euros ($11 million) by the Italian Competition Authority today for allegedly using user data for commercial purposes without their explicit consent, which is a clear violation of Italy’s Consumer Law.

The agency claims that both Apple and Google use user data collected through their services for promotional and economic activities without user consent. According to one machine, Apple “directly uses the economic value of user data it collects” to “increase the sales of its products and/or third-party products through its commercial platforms (App Store, iTunes Store, and Apple Books).” A translated copy of the press release.


Regulators claim that neither Apple nor Google have provided users with sufficient and instant information to indicate that their data will be used for commercial purposes. Specifically, the read-out fine stated that Apple did not provide users with a way to choose not to use their data for commercial purposes. According to 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 authorities stated that when a user creates an Apple ID (essential for accessing any of Apple’s services), Apple will not “immediately and clearly provide the user with any instructions regarding the collection and use of (their) data for commercial purposes.” The regulator added that Apple only tells users that their data will be used to improve and personalize their experience, not for commercial purposes.

For example, when using the “App Store”, Apple does display a splash screen to users informing them that Apple may use some of their data to “enable features, protect our services, or personalize your experience.” Although the authorities correctly outlined that Apple did not admit that the data would be used for commercial purposes, it did not provide examples or evidence of Apple’s involvement in such activities.

Apple’s privacy policy is accessible to all users on its website, which stipulates that the company will only use personal data to support its services, comply with local laws, prevent fraud, and for communication purposes. Apple’s privacy policy also adds that personal data can only be used for other purposes with the user’s consent, covering any possible ambiguity.

Earlier this week, the Italian competition regulator imposed a fine of more than $150 million on Apple for alleged anti-competitive practices with Beats and Amazon. The fine is the result of an investigation that found that Apple and Amazon restricted the sale of Beats products through third-party resellers in an attempt to stifle competition. Regarding today’s fine, Apple did not immediately respond to our request for comment.


Trending News

To Top