German minister criticises Apple over data

German Ministress of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger lashed out against maker of locked-in consumer electronics devices Apple this weekend, after Jobs’ Mob changed the terms of its data protection rules early last week.

Talking to Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel, Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said Apple had to “immediately reveal” what data is tracked, for how long it is retained and what it is used for.

The users of iPhones and other GPS-enabled devices have to know what information is being collected on them. She went on to say it would be “unthinkable” if Apple would be creating personalised profiles. Apple had to allow German data protection officials to check Apple’s databases.

Apple’s changes to its terms of service included a paragraph stating it had to put further precise location data to itself and third parties, in order to be able to offer localised services. Apple also said geographic data would be gathered anonymously, without identifying users personally.

However, Apple’s critics say the company doesn’t clarify exactly what data it will collect, with what data sets it is connected to, nor how a user can opt out. Law boffins in Germany are currently scratching their heads to figure out if the new terms are legal under German law, or not.