Advertising companies and publishers have filed a complaint against Apple Inc. with France’s competition authority, arguing that privacy changes the smartphone maker plans to roll out are anticompetitive.
The companies behind the complaint, brought through a group of trade associations, say few users will agree to be tracked, making it harder for companies from game-makers to news publishers to sell personalized ads and tough for the middlemen in those transactions.
The antitrust complaint argues that changes coming later next year in iOS 14 that will require apps to get permission from users to track their advertising identifier across apps is “anti-competitive”. Earlier this year under pressure Apple delayed the rollout of the feature due to concerns from Facebook and others.
In specific, the complaint is asking French authorities to block Apple from making any changes to iOS 14 while the investigation is ongoing. The lawyer representing the case says that Apple’s conduct is anticompetitive, and voices worry over its future implications.
“At the highest level, this is a novel case—a truly important case—because it deals with the use of privacy as a sort of fig leaf for anticompetitive conduct,” said Damien Geradin, the competition lawyer representing the coalition of industry groups, including the Interactive Advertising Bureau France. “We think that this is the sort of thing that will arise increasingly in the future.”