France’s competition authority has given the go-ahead for Apple’s new privacy protocols to be implemented, stating that the move does not “constitute an abuse of a dominant position,” as part of a decision issued on Wednesday (17 March).
In June, Apple announced that as part of its policy to strengthen the protection of its customers’ privacy, it would be introducing a feature dubbed ATT (App Tracking Transparency) in September 2021.
The change would mean that when an iPhone owner views an application downloaded from the App Store, a pop-up window would appear, asking for explicit consent to share personal data with third parties for advertising purposes. If consent is given, third parties are able to access the Identifier for Advertisers (“IDFA”), which identifies each Apple device and allows for the tracking of the owner’s advertising, including on third-party sites.
The complainant associations criticized Apple for requiring application developers to use ATT solicitation to access the IDFA identifier. The collection of consent via ATT solicitation would condition the tracking of the user’s advertising on third-party sites, which would then allow targeted advertising to be sent to the user, complainants said.
There were fears that Apple would therefore have imposed unfair trading conditions on application developers, which would constitute an abuse of a dominant position. The Authority was asked to issue emergency measures ordering Apple not to require, as it stands, the use of ATT to obtain the user’s authorization for its advertising tracking and to engage in a constructive dialogue with industry stakeholders to find an acceptable solution for obtaining user consent for ad tracking.
Ultimately, however, the French Competition Authority’s decision on Wednesday noted that “the ATT solicitation is in line with Apple’s privacy strategy and does not appear to lack necessity, objectivity, and proportionality”.
‘’The existence of self-preference will be further examined in the context of the case on the merits’’, the Competition Authority added.