UPDATE:Apple contacted us and gave us the following statement, attributed to an Apple spokesperson:
“Apple believes in thriving and competitive markets, and through the App Store we have helped millions of developers turn their brightest ideas into apps that change the world. In Germany alone, the iOS app economy supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and has developers from every size have the same opportunity to share their passion and creativity with users, while creating a safe and trusted place where customers can download their favorite apps.
“Privacy has always been at the heart of our products and features. At Apple, we believe that a user’s data belongs to them and they should decide whether to share their data and with whom. We’ve long believed in the power of ads to connect businesses with customers – and that you can have great ads with lots of privacy. App Tracking Transparency (ATT) simply gives users a choice of whether they want apps to track them or share their information with data brokers. ATT does not prevent companies from promoting or restricting their use of first-party data obtained with their consent from users.
“These rules apply equally to all developers – including Apple – and we have had strong support from regulators and privacy advocates for this feature. Apple holds itself to a higher standard of privacy than almost any other company by offering users an affirmative choice of whether or not not whether they don’t want personalized ads at all.
“We will continue to work constructively with the FCO to answer all of their questions and discuss how our approach promotes competition and choice, while protecting user privacy and security.”
The original story continues below.
Apple (as well as other tech giants) have been subject to multiple investigations, primarily on grounds of anticompetitive practices. Now, however, a new investigation is underway, reports AppleInsider
† And this time it surprisingly (or not really) singles out App Tracking Transparency, one of Apple’s commonly used privacy features.
Is app tracking transparency anticompetitive? German regulators want to find out
App Tracking Transparency, or ATT for short, launched last April with iOS 14.5 as a means for users to block third-party app tracking. If you decide to unfollow, iOS will block trackers from following you around the web (well, these aren’t people, but some sort of identifier that collects data) for the purpose of serving you targeted ads. As you might imagine, the service has hurt some advertisers and businesses, including Facebook, one of its most outspoken critics. And now it looks like German regulators are raising their eyebrows at it, ready to investigate whether it hurts competition.
The investigation will be led by the Bundeskartellamt, the German Federal Cartel Office. The regulatory body has shared the information in a statementclaiming that Apple should make pro-competitive rules, given its “important” position vis-à-vis its ecosystem.
Andreas Mundt, chairman of the Federal Cartel Office, stated that it appears that Apple’s rules for App Tracking Transparency only apply to third-party apps, but not to Apple. And yes, theoretically this gives Apple the ability to favor its own offers and ads. Label – potentially anticompetitive.
According to the preliminary findings of the German regulator, Apple is indeed not subject to the rules of ATT. The investigation will look into this in depth and determine whether or not this promotion is found to be in conflict with healthy competition.
From what it seems, Apple, as well as other tech giants, including Google, are getting trial after survey. Recently it was the UK that has launched a new research effort. The The US is also working on regulations to promote competition and limit the reach of tech giants.