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The Italian Competition Authority has Fined Apple Distribution International €10 Million for use of Consumer Data and more

1 cover Italy authority AGCM


On Tuesday, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Italy's Antitrust Authority has fined Apple US$225 Million for Anti-Competitive cooperation with Amazon in the sale of Apple & Beats Products." Today, Apple was hit with yet another fine.


The Italian Competition Authority (Italian: Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, AGCM) is the Competition regulator in Italy. A press release from their office dated today states that "The Authority found two violations of the Consumer Code, one for lack of information and another for aggressive practices regarding the acquisition and use of consumer data."


The Competition and Market Authority closed two investigations against Google Ireland Ltd. and Apple Distribution International Ltd., sanctioning both of 10 million euros, that is, for the maximum allowed according to current legislation. The Antitrust Authority has ascertained for each company 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.


Google bases its economic activity on the offer of a wide range of products and services connected to the Internet - which include technologies for online advertising, search tools, cloud computing, software and hardware - also based on user profiling and carried out thanks to their data.


Apple collects, profiles and uses user data for commercial purposes through the use of its devices and services. Therefore, even without proceeding to any transfer of data to third parties, Apple directly exploits the economic value through a promotional activity to increase the sale of its products and / or those of third parties through its commercial platforms App Store, iTunes Store and Apple Books.


In these contexts, the Authority has found that there is a consumption relationship between users and the two operators, even in the absence of a monetary outlay, the consideration for which is represented by the data they transfer using the services of Google and Apple.


The Authority found that both Google and Apple did not provide clear and immediate information on the acquisition and use of user data for commercial purposes.


In particular, Google, both in the account creation phase, which is essential for the use of all the services offered, and during the use of the services themselves, omits relevant information that the consumer needs to consciously decide to accept that the Company collects and uses their personal information for commercial purposes.


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.


With the second practice, the Authority found that the two companies implemented an aggressive practice. In particular, in the account creation phase, 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.


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.


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