Italian regulator considers iCloud user agreement in breach of law

By: Yuriy Stanislavskiy | 28.09.2021, 18:07
Italian regulator considers iCloud user agreement in breach of law

The Italian antitrust regulator has found that Apple's iCloud terms of use are unreasonable and unfair to consumers and may violate consumer protection laws. This is the latest in a long line of antitrust investigations and lawsuits facing the Cupertino-based company.

The complaints were followed by an investigation and public consultation that found a number of Apple's terms and conditions to be illegal. This statement was made in the report (PDF, 827 KB) of the Competition and Market Guarantee Authority (Autorità Garante Della Concorrenza E Del Mercato).

It says that all the consumer associations involved in the consultation agreed that the conditions are unbalanced and unfair. Three points in particular are cited:

1. Apple's right to unilaterally change the terms and conditions

The iCloud terms and conditions state that Apple can unilaterally change them at any time, without placing any specific restrictions on the effects of those changes. The contract relies on vague terms stating that any changes must be "reasonable," without providing examples.

2. Lack of Data Security Guarantees

Apple encourages consumers to use iCloud to protect and back up their data, but the company provides no details about the protection measures it employs and makes no guarantees. Moreover, its terms specifically exclude any liability for data loss.

The Authority has found that iCloud's marketing materials describe it as a secure form of storage and backup, while the terms and conditions contradict this. As an example, Apple states that it has the right to delete iCloud backups if they are not updated for six months, while most consumers are unaware of this, assuming that their data is safe indefinitely.

3. Other disclaimers

The regulator found that disclaimers are widely used in the contract, allowing the company to absolve itself of liability for any breaches without compensating consumers. In addition, the regulator found that the terms of the contract make the question of what jurisdiction applies very uncertain.

Apple defends iCloud terms of use

Apple claims it has only changed the terms twice in five years, once solely to change the company's name and the other changes consumers liked.

The iPhone maker claims that it offers a free iCloud tier [the infamous and almost entirely useless 5GB tier] and that you can't expect free data to be stored indefinitely.

The company also argues that the liability limits explicitly state that they only apply to the extent permitted by law, and therefore simply cannot violate the law.

More broadly, Apple argues that such conditions are common to all cloud services and are simply intended to alert consumers to the fact that no cloud service is completely risk-free.

Source: agcm9to5mac

Illustration: Praveen Thirumurugan on Unsplash