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France’s national data privacy agency (CNIL) has fined Apple a total of €8 million over allegations of inadequate user consent for personalized ads in the company’s App Store.

The CNIL stated that the default setting for advertising targeting on iPhones was pre-enabled, despite not being necessary for the device’s functioning. The case dates back to 2021 and concerns an older version of the iOS operating system.

Apple plans to appeal

The initial complaint came from a lobby group that alleged Apple failed to adequately request mobile app user consent to gather data for targeted advertisements. The fine imposed by the CNIL is larger than the €6 million penalty recommended by the agency’s chief adviser.

In response to the fine’s announcement, Apple expressed disappointment and shared plans to file an appeal. The company highlighted the options it provides users through its App Tracking Transparency feature, which reportedly blocks tracking across websites and apps belonging to other companies.

France Digitale

Apple argues it does collect consent in line with the law. “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 personalized ads”, the company said.

France Digitale, the lobby group that prompted the case, represented venture capital firms and startups. The group said that iOS 14’s update did not comply with the European Union’s data protection regulations regarding personal data.

Tip: Meta fined €390 million for data processing in personalized ads