Apple is facing an investigation in Poland over App Tracking Transparency (ATT) for iOS. The investigation will determine whether the new rules on privacy and personal data processing for iOS devices violate competition law.
Apple’s App Tracking Transparency rules under investigation for anti-competition in Poland
App Tracking Transparency was introduced with iOS 14.5 as a way to help improve the privacy of iOS users by giving them more control over their data. While customers’ feedback on the feature has been “overwhelmingly positive,” it has received criticism from the advertising industry.
Polish antimonopoly watchdog UOKiK recently announced that it would be investigating Apple, specifically its ATT rules relating to privacy and personal data processing to determine if any competition laws are being violated. According to the regulator, the Cupertino tech giant has significantly reduced the ability of third-party apps to obtain user data on iOS in order to send targeted ads, however, this does not mean that users’ information is no longer being collected and that they do not receive personalized ads.
“The actions of digital giants are a challenge for antitrust authorities all around the world,” added Tomasz Chróstny, the president of UOKiK, in a statement. “During the course of our investigation, we want to examine whether Apple’s actions may be aimed at eliminating competitors in the market for personalized advertising services, the objective being to better sell their own service. We will investigate whether this is a case of exclusionary abuse of market power.”
There are doubts that App Tracking Transparency guidelines were established to promote the company’s own advertising service, Apple Search Ads while costing advertisers and billions in profit.
While ATT has had a significant impact on advertising, some app developers are reportedly using a workaround by observing “signals” from an iPhone at a group level allowing them to tailor advertising with certain behaviors but not associated with unique IDs as long as that data is anonymized and aggregated rather than tied to specific user profiles.
As a result, even though nearly 80% of iOS users have opted out of app tracking, companies like Snap and Facebook are using the “wiggle room” to share data that could be used to identify users later.