France’s data regulator said Wednesday that it had fined Apple eight million euros ($8.5 million) for breaching privacy laws on its App Store.
The CNIL said the US tech giant had installed trackers on the devices of French users without directly asking their consent, allowing it to place targeted ads within the App Store.
Apple said in a statement that it was “disappointed” with the decision and would appeal.
“Apple Search Ads goes further than any other digital advertising platform we are aware of by providing users with a clear choice as to whether or not they would like personalised ads,” it said.
Apple has touted itself as a champion of privacy and in 2021 allowed users to easily block apps from collecting personal data.
The move helped put a severe dent in the business models of its rivals, particularly Facebook owner Meta, which relies on collecting personal data to power its advertising algorithms.
Apple’s competitors have long accused it of hypocrisy, claiming it wants to keep and exploit the data for itself.
The CNIL is one of Europe’s most active regulators and has repeatedly fined US tech giants for breaches of data privacy.
The complaint against Apple was filed in March 2021 by a group of French app developers, and a CNIL investigation found that users were opting in to the data collection by default.
Similar cases have also been opened in Germany and Poland.
However, the French fine was relatively low as CNIL accepted that Apple had quickly changed its system when told of the breaches.
As the issue fell under domestic French law rather than European law, the punishment was limited to the damage inflicted in France.
The fine was the latest against US tech giants by European regulators increasingly vigilant on privacy, requiring tough protections on personal data that the companies often roll out well beyond the Continent.
Also Wednesday, social media giant Meta was slapped with fines totalling 390 million euros ($413 million) by Irish regulators for breaching EU personal data laws on Facebook and Instagram.
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