The problem of taming big tech has been well above the national agenda for years and recently escalated to U.S. antitrust authorities filing lawsuits against Google for their dominance in the search market.

The European authorities are doing the same as trade organizations in France file a complaint against Apple with the competition authorities claiming that the proposed privacy measures in iOS 14 will irreversibly harm the mobile advertising industry.

Last month, the French chapters of the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Mobile Marketing Association filed a complaint with the Autorité de la Concurrence (ADLC) over Apple’s controversial plan to prevent app developers from distributing mobile IDs (IDFA) without a specific user option – in the.

Apple first unveiled the plans in June, which many feared would hamper the $ 45 billion mobile advertising industry. It did so as part of the iOS 14 rollout, which left some of the biggest names in the industry, including Facebook, clueless.

Postponement of execution

After much back and forth, Apple gave the in-app mobile advertising business a respite and postponed the introduction of restrictions that would hinder the targeting and measurement of in-app ads on iPhones. Typically, however, Apple has clarified little about its plans, with the exact start date of IDFA restrictions unknown, and only stated that it would happen “in early 2021”.

During the limited dialogue between the iPhone maker and trade organizations, IAB Europe urged Apple to adopt the transparency consent framework – an initiative to ensure that the online advertising industry complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations.

Typically, Apple’s disclosure of rules for data collection in the iOS ecosystem is a one-sided affair. The iPhone manufacturer offers limited guidelines for its AppTrackingTransparency Framework.

Concerns about abuse of the distribution monopoly

In short, the French-based trade organizations claim that Apple’s privacy policy justifications are simply not correct, especially since the App Store is a “sales monopoly” for iOS apps.

The complainants allege that Apple’s mandatory wording on how app developers communicate their data collection and sharing activities is specifically designed to prevent user login.

In addition, they claim that Apple’s iOS 14 terms and conditions are unfair trading terms, as the pre-existing IAB Transparency Consent Framework already includes data protection requirements that are regulated by the GDPR.

The user opt-in rate is expected to be very low due to the intimidating language in the pop-up window.

“Once implemented, Apple’s behavior is likely to be an abuse of its dominant position in violation of EU and French competition law, as it will have both exploitative and exclusive effects,” the complaint said.

Damien Geradin, partner at the France-based law firm Geradin Partners, said in a briefing with journalists about the legal arguments behind the complaint, “We don’t need Apple to monitor the internet!”

He also referred to the consumer protection measures of the elected European bodies.

“Democratic decisions were made,” added Geradin. “EU providers have developed consent management platforms that already give iOS users the choice and control over how their data is collected and processed.”

The parties have asked the ADLC to impose “interim measures,” including an order that would prevent Apple from implementing its data-sharing consent. In addition, the parties are looking for a policy that will force Apple to enter into a discourse with the mobile advertising industry about an acceptable solution.

The ADLC has confirmed it has received the measures and is reviewing the claims.

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