Apple’s upcoming ATT feature will require all developers to ask permission to track iPhone users’ activity across third-party apps and websites. Expected to launch in iOS 14.5 update in Spring, the ATT feature will forever change the way free social media apps which earn revenue by running targetted ads. Therefore, EU’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager has warned the company to treat all developers equally, including its apps.
Designed to bring data tracking transparency on Apple’s platform, the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update has rocked the digital advertising industry which running targetted ads by collecting and storing users’ data by invasive means. So far, only Facebook has publically condemned Apple’s upcoming privacy feature by accusing the company of hurting small businesses and monopolizing free internet. In return, the Cupertino tech giant clarified that it is not stopping tracking but giving users control of their data.
Apple must apply ATT feature to its own apps as well, warns EU’s antitrust chief
In an interview with Reuters, the EU’s antitrust chief compared the new ATT update to her own efforts to compel U.S tech giants to give users control of their data privacy.
“It is a very good thing to have a clear opt-out option. If you look at the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act, these are some of the solutions we are looking at there.”
However, she also warned that if Apple excludes its own apps from seeking permission to track users that would be constituted as anti-competitive behavior.
Vestager said while the issue is privacy-related, it can morph into an antitrust issue if Apple tilts the level playing field.
“It can be competition if it is shown that Apple is not treating its own apps in the same way.” Vestager said so far she has not received any complaint about Apple’s changes.
Although Apple did not give a statement to Reuters, the company has categorically stated in its reply to Facebook’s ad campaign that the ATT feature will be applied to all developers including its own.
Our new tracking control feature applies to all developers — including Apple. Throughout our products and services, Apple uses privacy-preserving techniques to protect our users. — We’re also expanding the SKAdNetwork privacy-preserving ad attribution API, so that third-party ad networks serving ads across a wide variety of apps can provide ad attribution to developers without knowing the identity of the user. SKAdNetwork is free to use — Apple doesn’t monetize this API.