The Italian antitrust regulator penalized Apple and Google €10 million each for “aggressive” data practices and failed to provide customers with clear information on commercial uses of their data during the account setup phase.
The Autorità Garante Della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) stated that “Google and Apple did not provide clear and immediate information on the acquisition and use of user data for commercial purposes,” adding that the tech companies chose to emphasize data collection as only necessary to improve their services and personalize user experience, with no indication that the data could be transferred and used for other purposes.
Concerns have been raised about how the firms omit key information when opening an account and using their services, details that the authority claims are critical to making an educated choice about whether or not to provide authorization for commercial use of their data.
According to the AGCM, the absence of express user permission not only presupposes users’ assent but also allows Apple and Google to submit the produced data to various types of processing without providing a means for consumers to confirm or amend their 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,” the regulator noted. “Therefore, the consumer is conditioned in the choice of consumption and undergoes the transfer of personal information, which Apple can dispose of for its promotional purposes carried out in different ways.”
Google and Apple both stated that they disagreed with the antitrust finding and will appeal it.
According to the watchdog, when users created their Google account, the system was constructed in such a way that the terms and conditions for data usage were set up to be approved.
In the case of Apple, users do not have a choice on the issue, the antitrust regulator added.
“We provide industry-leading transparency and control to all users, so they can choose what information to share or not, and how it’s used,” Apple said in a statement, describing the regulator’s view as “wrong”.