French Regulator to Probe Apple's Upcoming Anti-Tracking Feature [Updated]

Apple will face a French antitrust probe into its upcoming App Tracking Transparency feature, following a complaint from advertisers in the country that the planned changes are anticompetitive.

app tracking pop up ios 14
Starting in iOS 14.5, Apple will require apps to get opt-in permission from users to collect their random advertising identifier, which advertisers use to deliver personalized ads and track how effective their campaigns were.

In light of the planned changes, a group of advertising companies and publishers filed a complaint in France last year alleging that the wording of Apple's permission prompt will lead most users to decline tracking of their device's advertising identifier, which could result in lost revenue.

On Wednesday, France's competition regulator rejected a plea from the group to block Apple's plan to restrict tracking of users' app usage, on the grounds that obtaining consent "doesn't appear to be abusive." Instead, the probe will scrutinize whether Apple is being consistent in applying the same rules to itself.

Via Bloomberg:

The investigation will "look closely" at whether Apple applied less stringent rules to itself than to other services as it makes privacy changes to curb online tracking in its forthcoming iOS 14 software update, the authority's chief, Isabelle de Silva told reporters at a Paris press conference on Wednesday. The case shows the need for fast antitrust action into technical issues, she said, promising a final ruling by early 2022 at the latest.

Apple's planned rollout of its new App Tracking Transparency feature has been controversial among advertisers from the off, with the upcoming feature drawing criticism from the likes of Facebook, which is concerned that many users will not consent to being tracked across apps for ad personalization purposes.

App Tracking Transparency is different from Apple's own personalized advertising system, which the regulator is likely to scrutinize as part of its probe. Apple's ads system doesn't track users across apps and doesn't identify users to target its ads. Instead, it relies on the anonymous grouping of users' shared characteristics such as apps downloaded, age, country or city of residence, and gender.

In a statement given to Bloomberg, Apple said it was "grateful" to the authority for "recognizing that app tracking transparency in iOS 14 is in the best interest of French iOS users," and said it looked forward to working with regulators on user privacy and competition.

Update: Apple issued the following statement to MacRumors in response to the French Competition Authority:

We're grateful to the French Competition Authority for recognizing that App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 is in the best interest of French iOS users. ATT will provide a powerful user privacy benefit by requiring developers to ask users' permission before sharing their data with other companies for the purposes of advertising, or with data brokers. We firmly believe that users' data belongs to them, and that they should control when that data is shared, and with whom. We look forward to further engagement with the FCA on this critical matter of user privacy and competition.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Janschi Avatar
39 months ago
As a German I must say, that France is like that wife that you can't please. No matter what you do.
Of course France probes every single fart a foreign company does. Then the French wonder why nobody likes them.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WilburMercer Avatar
39 months ago
What sort of world are we living in where it's "anti-competitive" to ask companies to stop spying on your internet usage?
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Konigi Avatar
39 months ago
Oh come on! They were supposed to be pro-users, pro-consumers. Now they are simply contrarians?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Captain Trips Avatar
39 months ago

You have to wonder what sort of wording the advertisers think would be more appropriate.

"This app would like to supply you with unicorns and rainbows, do you accept?"
I think "truffles and Bordeaux wine" might get greater acceptance in France... :D?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ericwn Avatar
39 months ago
Looking forward to the findings. Apple likely has applied greater care in the privacy part of its business so I don’t necessarily expect any great revelations here.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Janschi Avatar
39 months ago

The fact that the rest don’t like France is covered in the famous Trillion Dollar episode of the Simpsons. [emoji3577]
I haven't watched that episode. I'll do it now.

Germany isn't great either, but I think the Anti-Tracking Feature really much is in favor of the GDPR the EU imposed a couple of years back.

In my opinion France only probes this, because Apple is a foreign company.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPhone Notch

Apple Explored These Notch and Dynamic Island Designs for iPhones

Friday February 23, 2024 2:05 pm PST by
With the iPhone 14 Pro models in 2022, Apple introduced the Dynamic Island, which can morph and expand to display system alerts, sports scores, and a variety of other information. The feature makes the space surrounding the front camera and Face ID sensors useful compared to the notch on older iPhone models. Apple explored a variety of ideas for the iPhone's notch area over the years before...
General Apps Messages

iOS 17.4 to Add This 'Groundbreaking' New Messaging Feature

Friday February 23, 2024 5:05 am PST by
With iOS 17.4, set to arrive in March 2024, Apple is bringing a new cryptographic security feature to iMessage called PQ3. This "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks," according to Apple. Let's break down what that means. Apple's iMessage service already supports end-to-end encryption, but security...
cracked glass vision pro

Handful of Apple Vision Pro Units Develop Identical Crack in Cover Glass

Friday February 23, 2024 4:46 am PST by
A small number of Apple Vision Pro owners have claimed that their headsets developed a hairline crack down the middle of the front cover glass, despite having never been dropped or mishandled. Photo of hairline crack in Vision Pro front glass (credit: Reddit user Inphenite) The first report was posted in the subreddit /r/VisionPro about 18 days ago, and several more have appeared in the last...
New Macs iPads iOS 17 4

What to Expect at Potential Apple Event in March: iPads, Macs, and More

Friday February 23, 2024 8:35 am PST by
Apple often holds its first media event of the year in March, so the company could be just weeks away from announcing new products. Below, we have outlined what to expect from a potential Apple Event this March. Past Apple Events in March Apple has held five events in March since 2015:Monday, March 9, 2015 Monday, March 21, 2016 Tuesday, March 27, 2018 Monday, March 25, 2019 Tuesday,...
iOS 17

When Will Apple Release iOS 17.4 for iPhones?

Friday February 23, 2024 11:56 am PST by
Apple has been beta testing iOS 17.4 for nearly a month now. Below, we explain when the update is likely to be released to all users. In its press release announcing major App Store changes in the EU, which were implemented in response to new regulations under the EU's Digital Markets Act, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released at some point in March:Developers can learn about these...
Next Generation CarPlay Porsche 1

Apple Launching Next-Generation CarPlay This Year With These New Features

Wednesday February 21, 2024 2:03 pm PST by
Apple recently updated its website to confirm that the first vehicle models with next-generation CarPlay support will debut "in 2024." This wording is shown on Apple's regional websites for the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. The iOS 17.4 beta includes code-level references to eight new CarPlay apps:Auto Settings: This app will let you manage paired iPhones...