Apple faces third EU privacy probe over GDPR

Apple’s (AAPL.O) main regulator in the European Union, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), has opened a third privacy investigation into the iPhone maker over the last few weeks, a spokesman for the DPC said on Tuesday.

The probe is examining whether Apple has complied with the relevant provisions of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy law in relation to an access request from a customer.

It follows investigations opened last year regarding how Apple processes personal data for targeted advertising on its platform and whether its privacy policy on the processing of that data is sufficiently transparent.

EU regulators have 20 investigations into tech companies, with over half of these investigating Facebook and its offshoots.


MacDailyNews Take: This makes absolutely no sense to us, given how easy Apple makes it for customers to check, verify and change any information the company holds about them.

As a champion of consumer privacy, Apple will take any required steps to continue to protect them, if it is found guilty at all. The case follows a complaint by an Austrian data privacy advocate in January.

Austrian data privacy activist files complaint against Apple, others for failing to fully comply with GDPR – February 18, 2019
Apple CEO Cook calls for U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation in TIME op-ed – January 17, 2019
Senator Marco Rubio introduces privacy bill to create federal regulations on data collection – January 16, 2019
Apple endorses comprehensive privacy legislation in U.S. Senate testimony – September 26, 2018
Trump administration working on federal data privacy policy – July 27, 2018
California’s data privacy law highlights growing frustration with tech industry – July 17, 2018
U.S. House Republicans demand answers from Apple, Google on privacy, data practices – July 9, 2018
California lawmakers approve data-privacy bill despite opposition from Google, Facebook, advertisers – June 29, 2018


    1. Considering that the tidy exclusive Apple arrangement with the corrupt Irish government resulted in an effective tax rate of 0.005% on all EU sales, yeah, Apple has plenty of money to pay their back taxes.

      Under EU law, any country can set its taxes to whatever it wishes — as long as the same tax rate is applied to all businesses. Apple and other US companies got a special deal, leaving local Irish and EU companies with a dis-proportionally high tax burden. The EU ruling on taxes was absolutely correct.

      This new probe into data sharing is also a sign that the EU actually cares about privacy. The very existence of iAd, iBeacon, and Google data sharing from iOS devices by default shows that Apple is being less than forthright about what data it sells. Don’t pretend that the billions Google gives Apple every year doesn’t come without some data transfer that you, the blind Apple user, are not informed of. Just because every Android maker does it too doesn’t make it right, or lawful in regions that actually protect the end user.

      1. Apple and Ireland made a deal.

        Apple Is Theoretically In The Right

        “Apple has one of the strongest legal teams on the planet and, as noted, it is hardly alone in this practice of using Ireland as a tax haven. And it worked for Ireland because even at this low tax rate Apple leads other companies in Ireland in terms of the amount of taxes it has already paid. If the favorable tax rate wasn’t in place, Apple likely wouldn’t be in Ireland and rather than getting a very small percentage of something Ireland would get a huge percentage of nothing. Apple exploited what appears to be a solid loophole only to have it slammed shut by the European Commission.”

        Unless you’re one of those people who believe that other people’s money and property belong to you. Lots of those kooks running for President it seems.

      2. “Under EU law, any country can set its taxes to whatever it wishes — as long as the same tax rate is applied to all businesses. Apple and other US companies got a special deal, leaving local Irish and EU companies with a dis-proportionally high tax burden. The EU ruling on taxes was absolutely correct.”

        Your interpretation is consistent with the final EU ruling, but is still wrong. The tax rates within each country do not have to apply to ALL BUSINESSES.

        Ireland gave Apple a deal, yes. However, Ireland did not say the deal was exclusive to Apple. Any other company could have come in with the exact same offering as Apple did (jobs, infrastructure, cash flow through IRISH banks, etc.) and could have gotten the same deal. That is the underlying premise of the EU rules. The EU investigators chose to ignore that. Their claim was and is that Apple got a “special deal” and that “special deal” violated EU rules. Damn reality. Because no other company came in with the same offer that Apple made, in the eyes of the EU investigators, the “special deal” must have been exclusive and must have been such that no other company was allowed to make a similar or the same deal. There really was not causal relationship there even though the EU examiners claimed there was.

        In all the reading I’ve done about this situation over the past few years I have never read anything that said this deal was exclusive to Apple and no other company could come in and get the same deal.

        To this day, people believe there was a causal relationship there, i.e.,no one else tried to get the same deal therefore no one else was allowed to get the same deal. The causality was not there.

        Disproportionate taxation happens all the time. I’d be willing to wager a very large sum that every country within the EU has some level of disproportionate taxation. The big companies can arrange for deals (based upon increased labor, infrastructure improvements, etc.) that the smaller companies cannot. The issue was supposedly the idea that the Apple-Ireland deal was exclusive and excluded other companies from getting the same deal. It was not, but the EU ruled as if it were.

        And, if the deal was so onerous, why isn’t Ireland radically lowering taxes for all those other businesses rather than just sticking the money “in the bank”? There are reports that the Irish government is not using the windfall for operations or infrastructure or new labor, nor is it giving tax rebates to the other companies. If the situation had been such a hardship for other companies there would have been by now a huge outcry from businesses to get either tax rebates or lower taxes going forward.

        1. How do you know that “any other company” could have had the same deal as Apple and only had to ask? The answer is of course you don’t know.

          FWIW even if Apple is innocent in the matter, simply taking advantage of a good deal, it does not mean they should not be obligated to pay tax they should not have been entitled to retain for themselves. Ireland acted illegally and typically the one acquiring property during an illegal transaction, in this case Apple, has to return it even if they themselves did nothing wrong.

  1. Correct.

    This “investigation” should take all of a week (40 hours): 1 hour to do the investigation (call Apple, as them to email documents, get documents, read them) then 39 hours to write it up in fancy EU legalese.

    Then, obviously, the EU investigators will find something that Apple has to do new, and the subsequent million dollar fine.

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