Dec 202014
 
 December 20, 2014

Posted by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada yesterday, this October outcome:

Complaint

The complainant alleged that an upgrade to Apple’s operating system(OS) for desktops forced the use of “cloud” servers to be able to synchronize contacts, calendars, email account settings and Safari bookmarks between Apple mobile devices and computers. She claimed that the upgrade eliminated the ability to accomplish this synchronization using the “SyncServices” function via a USB connection, available in a previous OS update.

The complainant also alleged that the following provision of Apple’s Privacy Policy required its users to consent to Apple’s collection of third parties’ personal information for unspecified purposes, without providing an opt-out mechanism:

When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to join you on Apple forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. 

Outcome

During the course of our Office’s investigation, the ability to synchronize contacts and calendar information between Apple mobile devices and computers using a USB connection was restored in a subsequent update, released on May 16, 2014. The complainant was satisfied with the actions taken by Apple in restoring this feature and considered this part of the complaint settled.

In response to our Office’s investigation, Apple agreed to amend and clarify the wording of the above provision of its Privacy Policy. The new wording was intended to specify the purposes for which Apple uses third party personal information. To this end, on September 17, 2014, Apple released a revised Privacy Policy, specifically noting that this change was “to provide additional information on current data use such as third party user data provided by our users (for example, when sending products or gift certificates).” The revised provision of Apple’s Privacy Policy now reads as follows:

When you share your content with family and friends using Apple products, send gift certificates and products, or invite others to participate in Apple services or forums, Apple may collect the information you provide about those people such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. Apple will use such information to fulfill your requests, provide the relevant product or service, or for anti-fraud purposes. 

The complainant advised our Office that the revised provision of Apple’s Privacy Policy was much clearer and as a result, she considered the matter settled.

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