Data protection: Federal cartel office investigates Apple’s ad tracking stopper

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privacy

Bundeskartellamt investigates Apple’s ad tracking stopper

Updated: 06/14/2022, 17:05

According to Apple, the ATT data protection concept gives users the choice of whether apps can track them or pass their information on to third parties.

Photo: DPA

Apple customers have been able to decide whether apps can track their behavior for advertising purposes for a good year now. The Federal Cartel Office is now examining whether Apple is prioritizing its services.

Bomb The German Federal Cartel Office has launched an investigation into Apple’s anti-tracking rules. This was announced by the authority on Tuesday.

The focus is on how Apple enables its users to prevent their behavior from being tracked across different apps and websites. The Federal Cartel Office now wants to examine whether the regulations give priority to Apple’s own proposals or whether they could hinder other companies. The group denied the allegations.

vehement resistance

Announced in summer 2020, the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature was rolled out on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV set-top boxes in April 2021 after strong opposition from the advertising industry. Companies like Meta (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp), which rely heavily on advertising revenue, complained that without tracking they could not place targeted advertising and had to accept large revenue losses.

In Germany, large associations from the media, internet and advertising industries filed a complaint against Apple with the Cartel Office in April 2021. He claimed the company abused its market power with ATT and violated antitrust laws. The unions welcomed the authority’s decision to review the ATT under antitrust law on Tuesday. ATT made effective, interest-based advertising on Apple devices impossible overnight — for everyone but Apple. “Apple justified the step with improved data protection, which turned out to be an excuse,” the associations said.

Cartel Office head Andreas Mund said data-friendly business models that give users choices about how their data is used are welcome. “A company like Apple, which can unilaterally set rules in its ecosystem, and particularly the App Store, should make them competitive.” There are reasonable doubts about Apple setting rules for third parties that shouldn’t apply to Apple everyone.

Data protection concept ATT

The agency chief said users can restrict the use of their data towards Apple in the settings related to their use for personal advertising. As of the starting point, however, Apple is not subject to the new and additional ATT rules.

Apple explained that the ATT data protection concept gives users the option of being tracked by apps or sharing their information with third parties. “ATT does not prohibit companies from serving ads, nor does it restrict the use of data obtained from users with their consent.”

According to Apple, these rules apply to all developers, including Apple. At the same time, a company spokesman noted the strong endorsement Apple received for the ceremony from executives and privacy officials. “Apple adheres to a higher standard of data protection than almost any other company and gives users the opportunity to decide whether they want personalized advertising or not.” Apple will continue to work constructively with the Federal Cartel Office to clarify all questions.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220614-99-659002/3

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