Germany Asks Apple for Information on iPhone Personal Data Collection

Germany’s Justice Minister has asked Apple to provide the government with information on what kind of personal information Apple is collecting with the new iPhone 4, how long the data is being stored, and what Apple plans to do with the information. The New York Times reported that the Ministry is concerned that Apple is violating the country’s über strict privacy laws.

Apple has not yet responded to the government’s request, but a company spokesperson told The Times it was working on the request.

At issue are laws in Germany that offer citizens, even convicted felons, the strictest privacy protection in the European Union. Collecting personal information without express consent is illegal, let alone disseminating it. The user manual that comes with the iPhone 4 in the country specifies that Apple reserves the right to forward data, including GPS data, to third party countries, a clause that could run afoul of the aforementioned laws.

“Apple has the obligation to properly implement the transparency so often promised by [Apple CEO] Steve Jobs,” Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel (the interview is not yet available on the English language version of Der Spiegel’s Web site).

Google and FaceBook have both run afoul of the same laws, and are dealing with their own investigation by German officials.