Scoop: France eyeing antitrust action against Apple
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.
Why it matters: A formal investigation would mark the first major government move taken globally against Apple related to privacy rule changes that upended the digital advertising world.
Driving the news: French regulators are favoring issuing a formal "Statement of Objections" to parties involved in the matter in coming weeks, sources told Axios.
- That step would signal to 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 2020 complaint argues that Apple’s app tracking changes did not adequately adhere to European Union privacy rules and that Apple failed to hold itself to the same ad targeting standards that it forced on its competitors because it targeted iOS users with ads from app tracking data.
- The complaint was filed jointly by four French advertising trade groups —IAB France, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), SRI and UDECAM.
What they're saying: Both Apple and the French Competition Authority declined to comment.
- The Authority in 2021 said the company's changes do "not appear to reflect an abuse of a dominant position on the part of Apple."
- In that statement, the authority said it would not issue urgent interim measures against Apple but would continue investigating the matter.
Catch up quick: Apple introduced changes to its app tracking policies in 2021 that made it easier for iPhone users to opt out of being tracked across other apps on their phones.
- Those changes cost rivals, most notably Meta, billions of dollars in ad revenues, while Apple's ad business has continued to grow.
- Apple has said that the changes are designed with privacy in mind, but competitors allege that Apple has leveraged the changes to boost its own ad business.