Privacy: why France imposes a fine of 8 million euros on Apple

Apple sanctioned for tracking its users without their consent. It’s a false note that the American brand would have done well without, which has made respect for privacy a central argument in its products in recent years as much as a differentiating marketing element compared to its rivals Google and Facebook.

The manufacturer of the iPhone has therefore just been pinned by the CNIL for having deposited on the smartphones of its French customers, without having obtained their agreement, advertising tracers intended to display personalized advertisements in its App Store application store. The French regulator is fining the manufacturer. Apple will have to pay a slate of 8 million euros, a derisory amount in view of its cash reserves.

Concretely, the Cnil noted “that under the old version 14.6 of the iPhone operating system, when a user went to the App Store, identifiers pursuing several purposes, including purposes of personalizing advertisements broadcast on the App Store, were by default automatically read on the terminal without obtaining consent”.

Shortcomings corrected but a symbolic sanction

The committee found that these targeting settings were enabled by default before iOS 15 and that it was difficult to turn them off. It considered that they were not however necessary for the provision of the service (the App Store) and that they should therefore not be read or deposited without the users having expressed their prior consent. Apple quickly corrected the situation after the announcement of the opening of an investigation, following a complaint launched by the France Digitale association in mid-2021. Insufficient to avoid blame from the regulator, but this explains the insignificant amount of the fine.

In a statement sent to RTL, Apple said it was “disappointed by this decision, the CNIL having previously recognized that the way we serve ads in the App Store prioritizes the protection of user privacy”. The company announces that it will appeal the decision and points out that these advertising identifiers did not make it possible to target Internet users when they browsed outside its application store. “Apple Search Ads never tracks users across third-party apps or sites, and only uses first-party data to personalize ads,” the brand explains.

This symbolic sanction comes as Apple imposes on third-party applications since the deployment of iOS 14 in 2021 request explicit consent from iPhone ownersa measure that has severely restricted advertisers’ tracking capabilities and revenue, dealing a severe blow to the business model of Facebook or to a lesser extent of Google.

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Privacy: why France imposes a fine of 8 million euros on Apple


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