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Apple app tracking policies face antitrust action in France, as well as Germany

Advertisers and ad-funded platforms like Facebook have been vocal in their objections to Apple’s app tracking policies, and the Cupertino company now faces antitrust investigations into the issue in two European countries.

A new report says that the French Competition Authority has found evidence of anticompetitive behavior by Apple in regard to app tracking, closely following a similar finding in Germany


Previously, Apple was happy to allow apps to freely use anonymized tracking IDs to link ad delivery to website visits. This enabled developers to sell personalized ads within their apps, which bring in more revenue than generic ads.

This changed with the introduction of App Tracking Transparency. Now, app developers must ask you if you want to allow that tracking. If you say no (as most people do), then the apps are not allowed to use that system.

Facebook and Instagram owner Meta was especially upset by this, predicting that the change in policy would cost it billions of dollars per year. In particular, it objects to the fact that Apple’s own apps don’t have to ask permission for tracking, enabling the iPhone maker to gather valuable data that is not available to third-party developers.

In particular, Apple is accused of hurting rival ad platforms in order to boost business for its own App Store ad offers.

Antitrust response in Germany and France

The German antitrust regulator last week found that this behavior meant that Apple was a legitimate target for special measures designed to prevent abuse of market dominance.

The Bundeskartellamt is examining Apple’s tracking rules and the App Tracking Transparency Framework in another proceeding (press release of 14 June 2022). In particular, the authority is looking into the initial suspicion that these rules could favour Apple’s own offers and/or impede other companies.

Axios reports that France is about to progress its own investigation into the same issue.

The French Competition Authority is likely to move forward soon with an antitrust investigation into Apple over complaints tied to 2021 changes to its app tracking policies, sources told Axios […]

French regulators are favoring issuing a formal “Statement of Objections” to parties involved in the matter in coming week [which] would signal to [both] groups that issued initial complaints about Apple’s actions, and Apple, that the authority found evidence of illegal anticompetitive behavior in its initial review of the complaints it received.

The complaint leading to the investigation was filed by four French advertising trade groups.

Both Apple and the regulator declined to comment on the report.

Photo: Surasak_ch/Unsplash

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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