Apple fined €8m by French watchdog over personalised ad complaint

5 Jan 2023

Image: © I Viewfinder/

A spokesperson for Apple said the company is ‘disappointed’ with the decision and plans to appeal.

France’s data privacy regulator, CNIL, has imposed an €8m fine on Apple over privacy violations that occurred on the company’s App Store.

CNIL said the personalised ads function was on by default for iPhone users, without first obtaining their consent. This relates to iPhones that used the older iOS 14.6.

The fine relates to a complaint issued in March 2021 by start-up lobby group France Digitale.

In its complaint, France Digitale, argued that while iPhone settings on iOS 14.6 allowed users to give apps permission to collect identifying information, the default settings allowed Apple to run its own targeted ads without consent.

It was claimed that Apple could then share data with affiliates without the user knowing about it and that this breached EU privacy regulations.

After multiple investigations, CNIL determined that the complaint was valid and that the user had to perform “a large number of actions” to deactivate this setting.

CNIL said the fine amount was based on the number of people concerned in France, Apple’s advertising revenues indirectly generated from the collected data, and the fact the issue was limited to the App Store.

The watchdog also noted that that later iOS versions have “reached compliance” with the French Data Protection Act.

Last month, an advisor to CNIL said Apple should face a €6m fine for the privacy rule breach, Reuters reports.

A spokesperson for Apple said the company was “disappointed” with the decision and plans to appeal, Politico reports.

Last year, CNIL issued a steeper fine to both Google and Meta for the difficulties users faced in refusing cookies.

The data regulator noted that these sites offered a button for users to accept cookies, but no equivalent button for rejecting, with several clicks being required to refuse all cookies. CNIL fined Google €150m and Meta €60m as a result.

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.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic