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.

Popular Stories

iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT 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 simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
iPhone 16 Pro Front Update Blue

iPhone 16 Pro Rumored to Support 40W Fast Charging and 20W MagSafe

Wednesday July 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will support 40W wired fast charging and 20W MagSafe charging, claims a rumor currently swirling around China. Right now, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models are capable of up to 27W peak charging speeds with an appropriate USB-C power adapter, while official MagSafe chargers from Apple and authorized third parties can wirelessly charge...

Top Rated Comments

Janschi Avatar
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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)