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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Has Clause For Privacy Concerns In Germany

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) apparently is not immune to the German court system and its enforcement of privacy- and data-protection laws. Germany has had an already storied history of having privacy and data-collection run-ins with Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in recent years, which have forced both companies to change how they operate in the country.

Apple Inc.Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is being treated no differently, as a German court has come down on Cupertino regarding the company’s privacy policy, saying that  its terms are far too broad as to be compliant with German law, despite the company’s several attempts to make changes in order to be in compliance. The Regional Court in Berlin sided with the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) in its verdict last week that was published Tuesday.

The VZBV sued Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in February 2012 after it demanded that the company make changes to its privacy and consent clauses a year earlier. Apple did follow through with changes to five of the clauses, but the VZBV followed through with the suit due to the lack of change to many other clauses.

Two more clauses were changed after the suit was filed, but Apple went to court over eight other clauses and lost. The key in the verdict was that the information in the clauses  was considered too broad, and Apple needed to address more specific information.

As an example of the broadness of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) consent clause goes like this, which is the same policy in Germany (where it is illegal) as it is in the United States (copasetic):  Apple claims the right to collect information about users’ friends and family – which includes name, email address and phone number – when that user send a gift or an event invitation.

Under German law, this clause is illegal because Apple does not have the right to collect the third-party information without express consent of the person receiving the gift or invite. And in a related clause, Apple has to be very specific about the information it collects on users to share with its affiliates and vice versa. Just a general note about collecting information isn’t enough.

What are your thoughts about this ruling? Do you think this will affect Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in its business practices going forward, and do you think this ruling may be used in privacy cases elsewhere? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.