German court says Apple’s customer data-sharing policies violate privacy laws

courtroom gavel

While Apple has been praised for its security efforts in iOS, it does not get the same applause for its privacy policies. The company is currently involved in a US-based lawsuit over its information-sharing practices, and today, a German court ruled against it.

This morning, the Berlin Regional Court in Germany ruled that Apple’s sharing of customer data violates its privacy laws. It said that Apple cannot request “global consent” for use of a customer’s data without telling them where and how the data will be used…

Bloomberg reports:

“Apple Inc. (AAPL), already facing a U.S. privacy lawsuit over its information-sharing practices, was told by a German court to change its rules for handling customer data.

A Berlin court struck down eight of 15 provisions in Apple’s general data-use terms because they deviate too much from German laws, a consumer group said in a statement on its website today. The court said Apple can’t ask for “global consent” to use customer data or use information on the locations of customers.”

As a result of the court’s decision, Apple will have to retool the way it handles customer data. It’s now forbidden from requesting “global consent” to use data points, like location information, and will instead likely have to ask for user permission on a per-point basis.

“The verdict,” said Gerd Billen, the executive director of German consumer advocate group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VSBV), “shows the importance of privacy for consumers in the digital world.” Obviously, the VSBV celebrated the court’s decision today.

User privacy continues to be at the top of the list of concerns for governments as we move further into the digital age. Here in the US, Apple is in court right now over its 2011 location debacle. And Google was just fined some $22 million last year over privacy violation.