Apple faces fresh privacy complaint in France

9 Mar 2021

Image: © Nikolay N. Antonov/

A start-up group has lodged a complaint with the French data protection authority alleging iOS 14 violates EU rules against tracking.

Apple may be facing its next regulatory battle in France after a start-up organisation filed a complaint with the country’s data protection authority.

France Digitale, a start-up lobby group, has submitted a complaint to the data protection watchdog CNIL over ad tracking and data collection in iPhones without consent.

The group said that iOS 14, the latest version of the Apple operating system, does not comply with EU data privacy laws and has called on the authority to investigate, according to Reuters.

It argues that while iPhone settings allow for users to give permission to apps to collect identifying information to target ads, default settings still allow Apple to run its own targeted ads without consent.

The complaint claims that this means Apple can share data with affiliates without the user knowing about it.

EU rules stipulate that all services must obtain consent from users to have their data collected and tracked, and also provide information to users, if requested, on how much data is collected.

Nicolas Brien, the chief executive of France Digitale, told Le Monde that start-ups follow the rules when it comes to data protection laws and so should large tech companies.

Apple has denied the claims. “The allegations in the complaint are patently false and will be seen for what they are, a poor attempt by those who track users to distract from their own actions and mislead regulators and policymakers,” the company said.

A similar complaint has been made against Apple in France by advertising industry groups. That complaint was filed with the antitrust authority late last year.

Apple has attracted increasing attention from privacy proponents of late. In November 2020, Noyb, the group led by privacy activist Max Schrems, lodged complaints with German and Spanish authorities over Apple’s tracking of user behaviour for ad purposes.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin