Italy Fines Apple and Google $22.6M Over Inadequate Data Collection Disclosure

According to a TechCrunch article by Natasha Lomas published over the weekend, Italy’s antitrust oversight body, the ACGM, fined Google and Apple approximately $11.3 million each for failing to explain to customers how the companies use their commercial data. As such, the tech titans stand accused of failing to obtain user consent in violation of the country’s consumer protection laws.

The ACGM also skewered the pair for using “aggressive” tactics to push users into accepting the terms of their commercial data processing, the news outlet said.

In particular, the regulatory body argued that Google offers too little information to users about its commercial data usage practices when they set up new accounts. In addition, the ACGM remarked that Google does not clearly explain how users can revoke consent later or otherwise modify their preferences.

Similarly, the Italian watchdog said that Apple failed to spell out how it employs user information when its clients shop in its digital stores or set up an Apple ID account. The ACGM also found that Apple’s approach denies users the chance to choose, contending that Apple more or less forces consumers to accept its terms. 

“It’s an awkward accusation for a company that splashes major marketing cash on suggesting its devices and software are superior to alternatives (such as tech made by Google) exactly because it claims to put user privacy at the core of what it does,” TechCrunch opined.

An article published by The Verge noted that the fine was the second Apple accrued in a single week assessed by the ACGM. Previously, it was penalized around $225 million for restricting who could resell Apple and Beats products on Amazon’s Italian webstore after the parties agreed to permit only certain resellers to sell their products.

In response to a TechCrunch query, Apple and Google both said they plan to appeal the ACGM’s eight-figure sanction. The authority’s Italian-language press release is available here.