Mr Schrems’ campaign group, noyb, said the unique tracking code generated by each iPhone, called IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers), allows Apple and all iPhone app developers to see how users are doing. behave without their knowledge or consent.
“Much like a license plate, this unique string of numbers and characters allows Apple and other third parties to identify users across apps and even connect online and mobile behavior (” followed by several devices ”),” Noyb said in a statement.
“Tracking is only allowed if users explicitly consent to it,” said Stefano Rossetti, privacy lawyer at noyb. “While Apple has introduced features in its browser to block cookies, it places similar codes on its phones without user consent.”
Noyb filed the complaint under the EU’s Online Privacy Directive, rather than the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As a result, national data regulators could directly fine Apple without needing the cooperation of EU data protection authorities, in the event of an illegality. “We are trying to avoid lengthy procedures like the ones we face in Ireland,” said Rossetti.
Apple said in June that apps should request permission before accessing a phone’s IDFA in its latest operating system, iOS 14. Additionally, the new system offers a privacy dashboard for enable users to understand the information their phone applications collect.
However, Apple then said in September that it would delay the changes, “to give developers the time they need” until “early next year.”
Mr Schrems has already won a landmark case this year, when the European Court of Justice ruled in July on legal protections that previously allowed European data to be transferred relatively freely to the United States.
Last week, the European Data Protection Board released updated guidance on data transfers. He stressed that data exporters need to consider risks such as intelligence service access to data objectively – if they can review the information rather than if they are likely to.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.