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French regulators call out Apple’s ATT

The iPhone and iOS owner may be in hot water from European regulators
French regulators call out Apple’s ATT
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Apple’s App Tracking Transparency may be going too far, or not far enough, as French regulators from the country’s Autorité de la concurrence are launching an investigation into their ad tracking systems.

In a statement from the French competition authority (via finance outlet Pymnt) they state that Apple wasn’t playing fair by forcing ATT prompts on third-party apps, but not properly displaying them on their own. “Apple is accused of having abused its dominant position by implementing discriminatory, non-objective and non-transparent conditions for the use of user data for advertising purposes.”

Apple's ATT has of course been referred to as the “Adpocalypse” specifically because of how it restricts access to user data for purposes like attribution, utilities many developers and publishers rely on.

In a statement provided to Pymnt, Apple replied “Apple’s apps do not show an ATT prompt because they do not track, meaning they do not link user or device data with user or device data collected from other companies’ apps, websites, or offline properties for targeted advertising or advertising measurement purposes, nor do they share user or device data with data brokers.”

Over the garden wall

Of course, while ATT has been considered a broad positive from a consumer privacy point of view, a key aspect many have pointed out is that what it mainly facilitates is the so-called “walled garden” approach to privacy on iOS. Whereas many third-parties are blocked from accessing this data unless cleared to, Apple has access from the get-go, which they arguably use to their advantage and even have their own ad network to use it. By effectively monopolising this data, Apple is arguably protecting user privacy, but also maintaining their own access.

It’s unclear just what resolution the French competition authorities could seek, however it’s an interesting wrinkle to the ongoing ATT story and a possible vindication for those who objected to Apple’s ATT on the grounds of it monopolising data. Although ATT rates have begun to climb, for many navigating the world of this new privacy and data-tracking environment is still cause for concern.