Apple Store's temperature checks may violate German privacy rules | Cult of Mac

Apple Store’s temperature checks may violate German privacy rules


Apple Store Hamburg line iPhone 6s
Apple Stores, like this one in Hamburg, Germany, are digitally checking the temperatures of customers as they enter.
Photo: Thomas Knoop (via Twitter)

As Apple reopens its retail stores throughout Germany, regulators are considering investigating whether temperature checks of customers to ensure the safety of visitors and employees is a violation of European Union privacy laws.

Bloomberg Law reported Tuesday a regional data protection office in Germany is looking into the matter after stores reopened all 15 of its locations May 11. 

The [Hessian Data Protection Agency] wants to know if the temperature checks violate the applicable data protection rules, Ulrike Muller, a spokesperson for the Hessian Data Protection Commissioner, said. There are no results yet from the probe and the office is coordinating with other German data protection authorities, Muller said.

Germany became only the second country in Europe to resume Apple Store operations since the majority of locations closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic almost two months ago.

Unlike many nations that have struggled to control the spread of COVID-19, Germany has been able to mitigate the viruses spread since January. As a result, German Chancellor Angela Merkel eased the nation’s lockdown last Thursday, permitting all shops in Germany to reopen. State administrations can still decide to keep them shut if they wish. All retail businesses must still take measures to ensure distancing and enhanced hygiene.

In a prepared statement, translated to English, Apple representatives in the country said last Friday:

“After many Germans have been working and learning from home, we will initially focus on service and support at the Genius Bar. Until further notice, we will take additional precautions, such as checking body temperature, maintaining the minimum distance, and wearing mouth-to-nose coverings and timings to ensure that customers and employees stay healthy. Our concept for maintaining the minimum distance requires that only a limited number of visitors stay in the store at the same time, so that walking customers may have to wait at the entrance.”

Apple closed virtually all its retail stores outside Mainland China March 14, as a result of the global pandemic. Since then, it has open a handful of stores around the world, including two stores in South Korea, one store in Vienna, Austria on May 5, and 21 of its 22 stores throughout Australia on May 7.

In a very controlled fashion, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told Bloomberg in late April that the company would “look at the data” and make decisions on reopening Apple Stores “city by city, county by county, depending on the circumstances in that particular place.”


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