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Apple Inc. faces a French antitrust probe into planned changes to the way it collects iPhone users data after regulators flagged concerns with the U.S. tech giants influence over online advertising.
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 authoritys 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.
Online advertising has attracted intense
regulators in recent months as both Apple and Google roll out initiatives to curb user tracking which they say will improve personal privacy. Advertisers complain that losing the ability to track how ads prompt purchases will
devastate revenue and give more control to online platforms.
Regulators didnt back advertisers call for so-called interim measures that could have prevented Apple from rolling out the update this year.
Apples self-proclaimed privacy push includes
plans for users to tick a box to consent to data collection for its so-called identification for advertisers, or IDFA service on the iOS 14 software release due this year. App developers have historically used IDFA to help target users with ads and track the performance of ads across different devices.
The French authority said that Apples rules themselves dont appear unfair but that officials still want to examine how Apple applies them. De Silva said getting the users to tick a box to grant consent wasnt immediately deemed to be unfair.
Apple is grateful to the authority for recognizing that app tracking transparency in iOS 14 is in the best interest of French iOS users, the company said in a statement. We look forward to further engagement with regulators on user privacy and competition.
The French case comes as Apple also faces
separate probes from U.S.,
European Union, U.K. and Dutch regulators into its app store and payment system. CNIL, the French privacy regulator, said Tuesday it is also examining allegations that Apples personalized advertising feature violates EU privacy rules.
With assistance by Stephanie Bodoni
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