Apple and Google have been fined by Competition and Market Authority for two violations of the Consumer Code, one for lack of information and another for aggressive practices related to the acquisition and use of consumer data for commercial purposes. The result is one total fine of 20 million euros, but both Apple and Google have already announced that they intend to appeal because they deem the Authority’s conclusions unfounded, and therefore the fine of 10 million each is illegitimate.
The sanction against Apple follows closely one of over 130 million euros that the AGCM has imposed in Cupertino for having signed an agreement restricting competition with Amazon – also sanctioned -.
Towards Apple, assuming that Apple (like Google) collects and profiles the data of users through its services, the Antitrust has highlighted how, while keeping the data for itself, Apple uses them for customizing promotional activities in order to increase the turnover of own and/or third-party products and services on the App Store, iTunes Store, and Apple Books, obtaining, at the close of the circle, and economic return.
In other words, if on the one hand, it is true that Apple does not sell data to third parties, on the other, Apple uses them to get rich. For the Authority, the fact that users give their data to use the services of Apple and Google benefits the two companies even in the absence of a monetary outlay.
Apple, both in the phase of creating the Apple ID and on the occasion of accessing the Apple Stores (App Store, iTunes Store and Apple Books), does not immediately and explicitly provide the user with any indication on the collection and use of your data for commercial purposes, emphasizing only that data collection is necessary to improve the consumer experience and use of services.
Apple is accused of do not allow users to choose in advance whether to share their data for commercial purposes.
The consumer is conditioned in the choice of consumption and undergoes the transfer of personal information, which Apple may have for its own promotional purposes carried out in different ways.
A spokesperson for Apple wanted to specify how the company is committed for some time to the protection of consumers and that will appeal for this:
We do not agree with the opinion of the Authority and therefore we will appeal. At Apple, we have long been committed to protecting the privacy of our customers and working hard to create products and features that protect their data. We provide all users with a level of transparency and control over their industry-leading information so they can choose which ones to share and how it is used.
Google was sanctioned for roughly similar reasons, namely the lack of clarity on the acquisition and use of data for commercial purposes. The Antitrust Authority has highlighted that both during the creation of the account, which is essential for the use of the services and in the use of the services themselves, Google omits information that would otherwise allow the consumer to make an informed choice on the sale and above all on the use of the data from which Google then derives an economic advantage.
Google pre-sets the user’s acceptance of the transfer and / or use of their data for commercial purposes. This pre-activation allows the transfer and use of data by Google, once they are generated, without the need for other steps in which the user can from time to time confirm or change the choice pre-set by the ‘agency.
A delegate of Google commented the decision of the AGCM announcing, like Apple, or want to appeal:
We have fair and transparent practices to provide our users with useful services, and we provide clear information on their use. We offer people the opportunity to manage their information through simple tools, also to limit the use of personal data, and we are committed to fully complying with consumer protection regulations. We disagree with the Authority’s decision and will appeal.