Privacy activists open new front lawsuit versus Apple in Germany and Spain starts a legal war in Europe: The association in defense of privacy in Europe, noyb, has just opened a new legal front in Europe. The collective has filed two lawsuits against Apple, before data protection regulators in Germany and Spain.
In the Explanatory Memorandum, noyb's lawyers understand that the code that Apple generates on each of its devices to identify its customers to advertisers— known as IDFA-works just like a cookie. Thus, Apple would have violated European regulations by not having requested explicit consent for it.
The organization itself explained on its website that "each iPhone works with Apple's iOS operating system", and this, by default, "automatically generates an IDFA for each". "Like a license plate, this string of numbers and characters allows Apple and other third parties to identify users through apps, and even connect to check how other devices are being used."
This summer, Apple weighed the possibility of complicating advertisers 'access to such'license plates'. The idea was for the iPhone's operating system to ask its users if it wanted apps to collect data about them to send them personalized ads. If someone answered no, Facebook, for example, would not be able to access the IDFA in question.
In fact, Facebook itself already warned at the end of August that in case Apple made this decision, it would destroy a good part of its advertising business. Just a few days later, Apple calmed the waters and explained that they postponed to 2021 whether or not to take into account this change in their systems.
A new legal front for Apple in Europe
noyb, in any case, does not agree with the current implementation of this IDFA. "European laws protect devices from external traces: they are only allowed if users explicitly consent to it," warns Noyb lawyer Stefano Rossetti. "Although Apple introduces features in its browser to Block cookies, it places similar codes on their phones."
Indeed, Apple has been basing its advertising campaigns for at least two years on the capabilities of its terminals and operating systems in defense of user privacy. The only problems that Tim Cook's company has had with European regulators have to do more with its fiscal engineering, which this summer has resulted in a big victory for the multinational.
Privacy activists open new front lawsuit versus Apple
Apple itself has had its fatigues on the Old Continent also because of its problems with competition.
The controversy with Epic and Fortnite has put a debate back on the table: the 30% commissions that Apple takes for every payment that is made on apps on its operating system. The quota is the same on Google, on the other hand.
Spotify is also stepping up its criticism of Apple, which it accuses of prioritizing its Apple Music service over its own on the iOS operating system. The tension was heightened after Apple announced in September Apple One, a competitively priced single-share subscription that included Apple Music, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade among other services from the firm.
Apple has been intensifying its efforts for years to get more profitability from its service segment, so it makes sense that even IDFA ends up being restricted to third parties and can only take advantage of Apple's own services.
But the iPhone maker has run into Max Schrems, the Austrian privacy activist, and noyb.
Why in Spain and Germany
"We believe Apple has broken the law before, now and after the changes." With the changes refers to the proposal of the multinational to restrict access to the IDFA to third parties. "With our complaints we want to reinforce a simple principle: tracking is illegal, unless there is clear consent."
This is explained by Rossetti, the lawyer of Noyb, who goes forward: "the IDFA should not only be restricted, but it should be permanently vetoed. Smartphones are the most intimate devices for most people, and they should be free of trackers by default."
Noyb filed the suit in Germany and Spain for one simple reason. "As this is a complaint based on the Electronic Privacy Directive and not the GDPR, the German and Spanish authorities can directly sanction Apple, without the need to cooperate with European data protection authorities," the lawyer details.
Of course, the Spanish lawsuit has been supervised by the collective in defense of Spanish digital rights X.net.a member of their legal team, Miriam Carles, explains to Business Insider Spain that they have given them some advice, since the law referred to in the lawsuit is the law on Information Society Services (LSSI), a Spanish standard.
Carles confirms that it is expected that Apple will end up appealing a contrary decision of the AEPD, in case it takes place. He also points out that since the entry into force of the GDPR, awareness in Spain regarding data protection has increased, "although we continue to give away data quite lightly". "In other countries there is more awareness," he notes.
Things could change, now that the new front against Apple also opens in Spain.
Privacy activists open new front lawsuit versus Apple
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Experts believe the vaccine will not immunize forever against the coronavirus and warn that booster doses will be needed
We may not yet know precisely how long immunity to the new coronavirus lasts, but researchers don't believe it's forever.
"With human coronaviruses, one can get infected repeatedly: one is not immune for life, one is immune for some time," Florian Krammer, a vaccinator at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai, tells Business Insider.
"There is no reason to think that this coronavirus will behave differently," he adds.
That means that even after coronavirus vaccines are available and distributed to the world's population, we are likely to need booster injections to stay protected over time.
"If the immunity turns out to be transient, we will need a vaccination plan plus a booster, or a revaccination at periodic intervals," he explained to Business Insider Marm Kilpatrick.
The two main candidates for the coronavirus vaccine so far, from Moderna and Pfizer, require two injections. The two doses of Moderna are given one month apart, while those of Pfizer are given three weeks apart.
However, the more injections we need, the harder it will be to make sure everyone gets them.
In addition, a two-dose vaccine regimen comes with supply chain challenges: it requires twice as many vials, syringes, refrigerators and clinic visits at a time when such resources are already limited.
But even after all those problems are mostly solved, a new challenge will arise: the need to figure out when our immunity fades, and whether (or when) a booster shot is needed.
"Once we start to see vaccine failures increase, then we can consider booster doses," Walt Orenstein, the former director of the U.S. National Immunization Program, has previously explained to Business Insider. He added, however, that "we do not know at this stage whether that will be necessary".
Some viruses, such as hepatitis A or measles, are a one-time affair: once you're infected (or inoculated), you're immune for life. But with coronaviruses, reinfection is possible after a period of months or years, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, that only happens to a fraction of people, and their second illness is usually mild.
In fact, limited evidence suggests that people could be re-infected with the new coronavirus. Some research has found that coronavirus antibodies drop after a period of months, which could mean that our immunity could be equally transient. Since the effectiveness of a vaccine depends on its ability to prompt the body to generate antibodies, coronavirus injections are unlikely to be needed only once.
But our immune system has more than antibodies that defend us from future infections, and a recent study suggests that those other defenses are maintained for at least six or eight months.