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Tuesday, May 07, 2013, 08:47 am PT (11:47 am ET)

German court strikes down Apple's customer data privacy rules

Apple's customer data sharing policies have been found by a German court to violate the country's consumer privacy protection laws, and the iPhone maker has been ordered to retool the way it deals with some consumer data.

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A Berlin court on Tuesday struck down eight of 15 Apple provisions governing its use of customer data, Bloomberg reported. The provisions had been challenged by German consumer advocate group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (VSBV), which celebrated the court's ruling on its website.

As a result of the court's decision, Apple is forbidden from seeking "global consent" to use customer data like location information. Instead, the company may have to specify in each case what a customer's data will be used for and by which programs. VZBV officials cheered the result.

"The verdict," said Gerd Billen, VZBV's executive director, "shows the importance of privacy for consumers in the digital world."

Apple had already signed a binding agreement with VZBV that it would not use seven of the 15 clauses that make up its general data use terms. The court's decision on Tuesday invalidated the remaining eight clauses.

The decision also blocked Apple from giving consumer data to other companies that used it for advertising.

The amount and importance of data customers enter into their iOS devices has grown as the devices have become more popular. The sensitivity of the data gathered by and entered onto these devices has led to numerous efforts around the world to ensure consumer privacy. 2011 saw governments in France, Germany, Italy, and South Korea asking Apple to clarify its use of location data after tests reportedly found that users' iPhones were collecting and storing location information even when location services were turned off.