Germany says Apple must improve data transparency

BERLIN Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:24am EDT

A customer tries out the new iPhone 4 at Apple Inc's store in the Ginza district of Tokyo June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A customer tries out the new iPhone 4 at Apple Inc's store in the Ginza district of Tokyo June 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Apple Inc must "immediately make clear" what data it collects from users of its products and for what purposes, Germany's justice minister was quoted as saying by Der Spiegel magazine on Saturday.

"Users of iPhones and other GPS devices must be aware of what kind of information about them is being collected," Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the German weekly.

According to Der Spiegel, the minister's criticism was aimed at changes Apple has made in its privacy policy whereby the company can collect data on the geographic location of the users of its products -- albeit anonymously.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said she expected Apple to "open its databases to German data protection authorities" and clarify what data it was collecting and how long it was saving the data.

An Apple spokesman said he could not comment on the report.

Germany has some of the toughest privacy laws in the world as a result of its experience with state surveillance systems once put in place by the Nazis and the former East German Stasi secret police.

The German consumer protection minister made headlines earlier this month when she said she would quit Facebook over what she called privacy law violations.

Meanwhile, after an audit requested by Germany, Google Inc in May acknowledged it had been for years mistakenly collecting personal data sent by consumers over wireless networks.

The justice minister said it would be "unthinkable" for Apple to create personality- or location-based user profiles.

"Apple has the obligation to properly implement the transparency so often promised by (CEO) Steve Jobs," she said.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Ron Askew)

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Comments (1)
MadAsHell2 wrote:
Thank goodness Germany is looking out for the users of Apple products and Google in Germany. They end up helping everybody else on the planet too! Yes, details might vary running an iPhone on AT&T versus in Germany, but at least we have SOME view into details that would otherwise too likely be kept “secret” …

Jun 28, 2010 1:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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